Russian Mob Involvement in Acai Offers

When Brian Weiss was killed on May 10th, Performance Marketing Insider received information from reliable sources  in the industry that pointed to one thing: that Russian organized crime was involved in his death.  While at first we incorrectly reported, within hours, that a Russian hitman had killed him, it seems that the general story is correct and deeply disturbing.

The Miami News Times is reporting that the police are actively investigating his ties to the Mob.

But police are considering a Russian mob angle to the killing, Kelly (NYPD Police Commissioner) says. The names of the other men in the meeting haven’t been released, but all live in South Florida and all were heard speaking a language that may have been Russian.

According to insiders, the money that he and his partner owed was intimately tied to Russian gansters from Brooklyn. With the death of the re-bill offers there may have been some outstanding  “issues” that needed to be resolved. While we may never know exactly what happened, it raises some questions about the involvement of organized crime in our industry.

It seems that perhaps the Russian Mob had become involved in Re-bills years ago. As the Acai offers grew larger, more and more consumers were complaining – and their merchant accounts were being shut off left and right. This left what was once a very, very profitable re-bill business without methods to bill their customers. The model was “working” but no one could get merchant accounts, or more importantly get paid from the merchants once the complaints hit.

Banks were also very aware of the re-bill issues  and started to put all these companies and their principles on ban lists.  They could not get accounts anywhere, and the merchant providers were on the lookout for anything involving re-bill of acai and similar offers.

While the stories are so far third party, innuendo, and a lot of speculation, it seems that many people have been talking about what happened next: the Russian Mafia got involved in order to make sure the re-bills were kept alive.  They applied pressure to some banks, including at the Bank of Israel, to ignore the obvious fraud and keep on re-billing consumers credit cards….often ignoring refunds. As part of this deal, they were expected to be paid off regularly, receiving a nice piece of the pie.

As one person told me on AIM last week: the Russians have a bunch of people they are “looking” for and they should be very concerned. Normally, when a business goes under, the people aren’t paid and they often sue… but the Russian Mafia doesn’t accept that as an excuse. They aren’t really into “court battles.” You owe them money whether or not you made money, and they could care less about Bankruptcy Notices.

Seems like another great example of why not to get yourself involved in less-than-ethical businesses, no? If you think the FTC is badass, you should meet my friend Ivanov. He doesn’t need an attorney. Anyone know where Jesse Willms is hiding?


Pesach Lattin
Pesach Lattin
Pesach "Pace" Lattin is one of the top experts in interactive advertising, affiliate marketing. Pace Lattin is known for his dedication to ethics in marketing, and focus on compliance and fraud in the industry, and has written numerous articles for publications from MediaPost, ClickZ, ADOTAS and his own blogs.

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