CONF: Colorado SecDiv investigating Achieve Community
It took a day later than I expected, but last night I received confirmation that the Colorado Securities Division has opened an investigation into the Achieve Community.
Yesterday I’d published a preliminary announcement regarding a possible investigation, with confirmation arriving later in the day via email.
As per regulatory advice, Investors of Achieve Community are advised to fill out the Securities Division’s online complaint form.
Whether or not the SEC themselves are investigating Achieve Community is unclear. Ditto whether Achieve Community’s owners Kristi Johnson and Troy Barnes are aware of the Colorado investigation.
On her Facebook profile Johnson claims to live in Denver, Colorado.
Johnson seemed oblivious to the investigation when she yesterday sent out an update to her investors.
In the update, Johnson sounded excited over the prospect of hooking up a new payment processor to the scheme and resuming ROI payouts.
Whether that eventuates in light of recent developments remains to be seen.
Footnote: Patrick Pretty sought their own confirmation regarding the investigation and received the following from Colorado SecDiv staff:
“We do have an open investigation,” said Lillian Alves, Colorado’s Deputy Securities Commissioner.
For the time being, she said, Colorado would not provide additional details.
Update 23rd January 2014 – At the time of this update, Johnson still appears to be oblivious to the Colorado investigation.
Instead, in her latest Achieve Community update, Johnson sought to inform her investors about credit card fraud and how payment processors work.
January 22 2015
Hello Achieve Community!
Today I just want to share some general information with you.
First about credit card fraud:
January is a notorious time for credit card fraud, people use their cards more often in December because of the holidays, and January sees a lot of charges that aren’t legitimate (I think some hackers believe that there is a percentage of people who won’t notice an extra charge or two during this time of year too, so do reconcile your accounts).
The banks are very good about refunding any unauthorized charges. You just need to call your bank if you have this problem.
Online fraud is something every online company has to deal with, using the most secure systems we can.
Achieve does not store any card information, social security numbers or any other sensitive details from our members on our site. Everything is secure and sent to secure sites.
I’ve heard from people running a couple other programs this month that they have had issues too, and a few of our members have been in those programs.
The general thought is that the best solution for purchases online is using a prepaid card that you load with just the amount you want to use. That way if it is compromised, there’s nothing there to grab. I think this is a very good idea.
The main reasons the banks, and MasterCard and Visa create the limits they do is because of the fraud and money laundering.
Again, in our experience, any fraudulent charges are refunded by the banks, and they go after the hackers.
We do everything in our power to make sure you are safe, and we work with our merchants to be sure that our systems keep getting updated so that we don’t have issues.
When we have heard of a problem, we have immediately changed our gateways so that we can keep you safe. And it’s something we will always work to resolve.
Second, a bit about processors just for your information.
Most of you have used payment platforms like PayPal, Payza, STP, Egopay – that sort of account. You open them up yourself and can send and receive payments. A lot of small online companies use these, most of the online stores and auctions use them.
These are manual payment platform. Each transaction is done manually, one at a time.
Some of them allow some batching, if the amounts are the same and the country is the same, but most don’t. They charge a percentage of the payment in fees to either the sender or receiver.
They are limited in their reach (STP for example isn’t available in some US states, and few countries). They limit the transaction amounts from sellers. And they are very expensive is you are making thousands of dollars.
Most programs that use them to make payments aren’t paying out much or don’t have a lot of clients. These are quite useful for purchasers however.
All of them have restrictions against MLM companies, network marketing, and the like. They do allow for person to person payments to get around this however.
For Achieve we need processors. Processors are automated, not manual. Our members sign up with them through us, not on their own. And we have the agreement with them to provide the funds to pay you into your individual accounts.
We work directly with their banks, and the funds go from our merchant accounts to the processors account with us. Transaction fees are normally set, not a percentage, and allow for larger transaction amounts to be processed without larger fees.
They provide the records that are needed for compliance and create the security to keep your information safe. We can send out hundreds of payments in one transaction.
They are also global in most cases (some aren’t) and provide the bank cards and bank transfers as well as the currency exchanges.
Achieve has thousands of members and we’ve made hundreds of payments to them daily. Something that would be impossible to do manually.
Our processors also take care of any issues with their users, and have the support staff to deal with that. When you sign with them, your account is separate from Achieve, it’s yours, and only you and the processor knows what your transactions are.
Achieve just sends the information to them so they know who to pay and how much.
This is a long term business, and we intend to provide, always, solutions that are best for you. The safest, the most convenient, the most legal and compliant.
I hope this helps you to understand a bit more about how things work in our industry.
To your success,
Johnson’s update is somewhat ironic considering Achieve itself was recently involved with processors who appeared to be committing credit card fraud.
With regulators now closing in, you’ve really got to wonder how much longer the facade will continue.
Who on Earth is going to take on the risk of providing payment processor services to a global Ponzi scheme under US regulatory investigation?