Part III: The Straw Holder Confession: Unveiling the Machinery of Deception
As our investigation delves deeper into the murky waters of dietary supplement scams, a compelling pattern emerges—one that mirrors a significant case from Utah. There, eight individuals were charged in connection with a $100 million fraud scheme involving nutritional supplements. This case, reported by KSL, highlights the same breed of predatory practices that have been unraveled in our ongoing series.
In this third installment, we expose the intricate web of ‘straw holder’ operations, a method eerily similar to the Utah case, where individuals are manipulated into becoming unwitting fronts for fraudulent activities. Through a series of interviews and deep dives into communication records, we uncover how certain entities, much like those in the Utah indictment, recruit and use straw holders to mask their illicit actions.
The Unwitting Accomplice “Alexis Mars” (name changed to protect her identity) was one such cog. “I knew it was a fraud, but I needed the money,” she confessed to us, her voice a mix of regret and resignation. She recounted how a friend introduced her to LimitlessX’s scheme but backed out, sensing the danger. Alexis, driven by desperation, stepped into a world she barely understood.
Meet “Jay” Central to this operation is a figure known only as “Jay,” who boasted about the scale of his influence. “I have 200 of you underneath me alone,” Jay claimed, highlighting the expansive network of straw holders at his disposal. Like the operators in the Utah case, “Jay” and his associates use these individuals to create a veil of legitimacy while carrying out their fraudulent activities on a massive scale.
The Mechanism of Fraud Alexis’s role was simple yet crucial. “They instructed me to do everything. All I did was provide my ID and a few items, and they opened up merchant accounts,” she said. This tactic, a hallmark of transaction laundering, involved using her identity to set up accounts through which illicit transactions could be processed, making them appear legitimate.
But Alexis kept a record. “They got mad because I kept all the text messages instead of talking on the phone,” she revealed. These messages prove a treasure trove of evidence that directly exposes the inner workings of LimitlessX’s alleged fraud.
The Facade of Legitimacy: Wellness Brands’ Role in the Straw Holder Scheme As we delve deeper into the intricate web of the supplement industry’s fraudulent practices, our investigation has uncovered another significant player: Wellness Brands. This entity emerges as a key cultivator and financier of straw holders, facilitating the setup of seemingly legitimate businesses to disguise the underlying scam.
Alexis reveals the extent of Wellness Brands’ involvement. She provided documentation of the dubious agreements she was compelled to sign, which on the surface promised entrepreneurial freedom but in reality, served as a facade for their illegitimate dealings.
“Wellness Brands presented me with contracts that seemed above board,” Alexis disclosed. “But as the veil lifted, I realized I was nothing more than a puppet in their game of financial deception.”
Alarmingly, Wellness Brands’ reputation outside of these hidden transactions is already marred with customer dissatisfaction. A cursory glance at their Better Business Bureau profile reveals a barrage of complaints (Wellness Brands BBB: https://www.bbb.org/us/ky/covington/profile/cbd-products/wellness-brands-0292-90036002/complaints) and negative feedback, painting a picture of a company all too comfortable operating in the gray areas of business ethics. Scathing reviews from deceived customers echo the sentiments of our informants, indicating a pattern of misleading business practices.
The company’s alleged involvement with straw holders not only exploits innocent individuals looking for business opportunities but also reflects a broader systematic issue within the industry. This discovery begs the question: How many other Wellness Brands are out there, supplying the scaffolding for these vast networks of fraud?
The Customer Fallout Amidst these revelations, the voice of the customer continues to echo. Complaints on Google Reviews and social media platforms paint a stark picture of deception. From unauthorized charges to non-delivery of products, the pattern of grievances aligns disturbingly well with Alexis’s story.
The Larger Implication Alexis’s account, when juxtaposed with the lawsuits and customer complaints, sketches a picture of a company that not only allegedly exploited Oprah Winfrey’s image but did so on the backs of unwitting individuals like her and countless customers. It speaks to a broader issue in the digital age — the ease with which identities can be misused, and financial systems manipulated.
Seeking Responses from Key Players
In our pursuit of thorough and balanced journalism, we extended our reach to a broader group of key stakeholders for their commentary on this unfolding story. This outreach included not only the Utah Department of Justice, which is at the forefront of the significant $100 million fraud case, but also LimitlessX, Equifax (the owner of Kount), and the executive leadership at LimitlessX – Ken Haller, Danielle Young, and Ben Benjamin Chung. Our aim was to engage them in a dialogue about their roles, perspectives, and actions in light of the allegations and patterns uncovered in our investigation.
Despite several attempts to initiate communication with these entities and individuals, our efforts have been met with a notable absence of formal responses. As of today, our requests for comment and clarification remain unanswered. This silence from key parties involved leaves critical questions hanging and the public narrative incomplete.
The Importance of Accountability
The absence of responses from these key players is noteworthy. In situations where the public trust is potentially compromised, accountability and transparency are paramount. The silence from these organizations does not only leave a void in the narrative but also raises questions about corporate responsibility and the willingness to engage in public discourse over such crucial matters.
Continuing the Pursuit of Truth
As we await potential responses our investigation remains active and ongoing. We are dedicated to uncovering the truth and providing our readers with the most comprehensive view of the situation. Our series will continue to explore the depths of these financial schemes, the entities involved, and the impact on individuals and the broader economic landscape.
Stay with us as we relentlessly pursue clarity and insight into this complex and evolving story, and as we hold those in power to account in the public interest.
By Cameron Stone, Senior Investigative Reporter, Dirty.Fund
Part I: https://dirty.fund/limitlessx-marty-wood-jasmathurfraud/
Part II: https://dirty.fund/the-scandal-of-limitlessx-oprahs-image-misused-amidst-consumer-outrage/
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