Friends, I have very sad news: I’ve run out of popcorn. This month has been SO entertaining in the world of scam-busting that I don’t know what to do with myself anymore. Let’s go over a few of the best examples.
You’re probably already familiar with the downfall of crypto exchange FTX and its former CEO, Sam Bankman-Fried (aka SBF). I talked a little about him last week in regards to how his core philosophies contributed to his fraudulent activities but I didn’t talk a lot about what he actually did: it appears that he was knowingly running a Ponzi scheme that collapsed, leaving millions of people without billions of dollars that they thought was safe in his exchange. It’s been a little frustrating watching him over the past month since the collapse, as he has been wandering around giving these “aw shucks” interviews to various outlets, because it’s like “hey, why hasn’t this guy been arrested yet?”
Well, it turns out that the FTC, SEC, and Justice Department were just patiently building their case but hiding it from the public and from SBF, and they did that so well that in at least one interview he said he didn’t think he was at risk of being arrested and apparently he was relaxed so much it appears that he straight up admitted to fraud in another interview, so he’s probably going to be spending quite a bit of time in prison soon, which is fun.
That apparent admission of fraud happened thanks to YouTuber Coffeezilla, who has been covering this whole thing very well. Like, I know next to nothing about the intricacies of the finance world and Coffeezilla has done an amazing job of explaining it all to idiots like me while holding SBF’s feet to the fire. It doesn’t have much to do with anything really but I need to share the funniest thing I heard in his videos was this exchange with investor Marc Cohodes.
Now, on to a scam artist who you might be less familiar with: back in 2019 I made this video about a get-rich-quick guru who was threatening a YouTuber with lawsuits to censor criticism. I said the YouTuber was called “Coffee Break” because back then I had no idea who he was but it turns out that that YouTuber was, in fact, Coffeezilla. Yeah, the same guy I’ve been watching destroy SBF. Small world! Back then he was a really small streamer and now he has like a hundred times more subscribers than me. Good for him!
The scammer in question was a guy named Kevin David, who was apparently making millions of dollars telling people he could teach them to make millions of dollars on Amazon. Coffeezilla originally just called him out for plagiarizing other “gurus,” but when David filed a DMCA takedown on Coffee’s channel, he came to the attention of people like me, who were happy to add the opinion that it looked like David was orchestrating a big ol’ scam.
In fact, in my 2019 video I pointed out that the FTC had just won a case against a company called “Amazing Wealth Systems,” who were fined $102 million for running a scam that looked remarkably similar to what Kevin David was doing. With that in mind, I encouraged viewers to visit ftc.gov/complaint and let them know of anyone else they might want to look into, like, oh, I don’t know, financial gurus with two boring names for a name.
Well! It appears that someone at the FTC WAS, in fact, interested in Kevin David, because they launched a lawsuit against him that was just decided last month, finding that David and his business partner “ripped off consumers by manipulating reviews and making empty promises of big returns on cryptocurrency investment schemes and bogus business programs,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “They ignored warnings that these practices were illegal, and now they are paying the price.”
The total judgment was for $53 million, but David claims he doesn’t have that much money so right now he “only” needs to pay back their customers $2.6 million. If the court finds out that they’re lying about their assets, they’ll need to pay more. Hilariously, David expanded his scamming into the crypto world (because of course he did), and so there’s a chance he’s hiding some money in that, which means that there’s also a chance that he’s already lost that anyway thanks to Sam Bankman-Fried, a thought I will think about every day or so whenever I need a pick-me-up.
It’s a little sad that unlike SBF, there’s not going to be a prison in David’s near future. I’m not a huge fan of American prisons but in these “white collar crime” cases, time and time again we see these criminals basically pay a small (to them) fine and then just come up with a slightly different scam to bilk more people. Like, the FTC fined Joseph Mercola $5.3 million in 2016 for selling tanning beds he claimed could treat CANCER, and since then he’s written several books and probably made millions more by shilling quack “alternative medicine” and anti-vaccine nonsense.
So I guess we’ll see what Kevin David pivots to next. My prediction? It won’t be a real job.