Changes name, still a scamster
by Eric Jackson (see note below)
Remember the US "patriot" militia movement from which Oklahoma City federal building bomber Timothy McVeigh came? That confluence of racist, neo-fascist, survivalist, tax resistance, weapons obsessed, "Christian identity" and apocalyptic strains was shoved farther out into the margins of the political wilderness when McVeigh lived out one of their favorite fantasies and then the Bush administration carried out some of their other ones.
But for the most part, the people involved didn't just go away. Some of them are grabbing headlines today in the guise of anti-immigrant militias.
However, for some people the patriot movement was good business. Take one Mark Boswell, for example. A law school dropout, he formed the "American Law Club" and hosted Denver meetings at which followers of the right-wing militia movement were instructed that they could become rich by filing "non-commercial judicial liens" against their least-favorite prosecutors, judges, elected officials or companies. In addition to a series of pricey "law seminars," Boswell would sell his "Civil Rights Task Force" jackets, deliberately made to look like the FBI and ATF apparel, and genuine-looking fake law enforcement badges. Boswell urged his customers to buy the things, wear them to court when their favorite tax resister or weapons law violator was in the defendant's dock, and warn judges and prosecutors that they were being watched.
Boswell's legal expertise only went so far. In 1995 he was one of the stars --- along with other militia types and a couple of far-right Colorado Republican legislators --- at a Canon City, Colorado "common law grand jury." (This was not a judicial entity but rather a political gathering convened to discuss such theories as how the Internal Revenue Service doesn't really have any legal basis for its existence.) When the assembly broke for lunch, police arrested Boswell on a fugitive warrant stemming from charges that he used fake ID when stopped for a traffic violation and that he used a bogus money order to buy a Mercedes. Colorado State Senator Charles Duke (R-Monument) lauded Boswell as a political prisoner.
The patriot movement paraphernalia and seminar business was greatly assisted by Boswell's weekly talk show on KHNC radio, a Denver station that was rebroadcast in other US locales and by shortwave all around the world.
But then on April 19, 1995 one Timothy McVeigh, a messed up former soldier with a reputation for killing surrendering Iraqi soldiers during the first Gulf War but who left the US Army after washing out in his attempt to join the Delta Force, lived out a neo-Nazi fantasy woven in a novel that was popular in right-wing militia circles and blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City.
Ten days after the deadly blast Boswell went on the air with the tale of how a former CIA guy and another "witness" had heard and obtained affidavits from --- the latter conveniently not produced --- two unspecified Justice Department officials that a shadowy "Committee of 10" involving the Clinton White House, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and the Secret Service (the latter both part of the Treasury Department rather than the Justice Department) were actually the ones who did the deed.
The general outlines and most salient details of the truth about the Oklahoma City bombing did, however, come to public attention. It was a big disaster for Mark Boswell's radio career and patriot paraphernalia business. So what's a more patriotic than thou American huckster to do after an embarrassment like that?
First, Mark Boswell assumed the name "Rex Freeman." Then, as he described it on Roger Gallo's Escape Artist website, he
...left the USA probably for many of the same reasons most do; the erosion of rights, the lawlessness of the courts, the intrusions of privacy, the omnipresence of big brother and the general mental decay of society. What once made America great, is now gone, or at best is quickly disappearing and I'd had enough. It was time to go.
My wife and I packed our things, put our little dog under the seat of the plane and headed south. Not being too sure of where we'd end up, our original idea was Panama. However, we made a stop over along the way in Costa Rica five years ago, and have never gone any further.
We are not wealthy retirees. I'm 46 and she's, well, she still won't say, but we had a very limited nestegg and the clock was ticking for us to find something to do to support ourselves. Neither of us spoke any Spanish (still don't very well) and we've been living on tourist visas for 5 years. Not a very stable situation.
I have always been enamored by the idea of living the 'PT' lifestyle (Permanent Tourist – Previous Taxpayer – Perpetual Traveler) and now was my chance. It was very clear under this philosophy, that in order to sustain this without a substantial trust fund, that you must have a 'portable business' which allows you to operate from anywhere in the world.
I threw up a website and started offering financial privacy consulting services helping other 'escapees' protect their financial affairs....
Freeman (Boswell) wove a web of offshore Internet businesses, which, unfortunately for Panama, did get farther than Costa Rica. These include:
- InterGlobal Finance SA, which is registered in Panama but lists its "administrative office" in Costa Rica, and whose website contains a revealing detail for a Panamanian company owned by an American citizen that operates out of Costa Rica: it says that it doesn't serve clients in Costa Rica, Panama or the USA.
- A "business club" known as the Venture Resources Group, which held a seminar this past May at the Playa Bonita Beach Resort, and whose website includes banking as one of the services it offers and lists InterGlobal Finance as the page's copyright holder;
- PCI Investment Club, another business registered in Panama but apparently operated out of Costa Rica; and
- Gold Palace, an online gambling operation that apparently went under in 2004. The www.sportsbookreview.com website has issued a "scam alert" for this company and warns that Freeman may have reopened it under the name WinBig.Biz.
One of the salient features of the InterGlobal Finance website, and a common theme in most of Freeman's promotions, is name dropping. Listed as "partners" are the Panamanian law firm Cajigas & Co., Credicorp Bank, Banco Cuscatlan, JPMorganChase in New York and UBS in Switzerland. For the Play Bonita "Power PT" seminar, Venture Resources Group and InterGlobal Finance named attorney Enrique Cajigas as a panelist and dropped the names of The Financial Times, BBC, Fox News, Canadian Broadcasting Company, Reuters, Asahi Shimbun, UBS, Jyske Bank (Denmark), Harvard University, the University of Houston Law School, the European Tax Institute, Deloitte & Touche, Costa Rica's Bolsa de Commercio commodities exchange, Denver University and the Colorado Supreme Court.
When contacted by The Panama News, Enrique Cajigas told us that "I did not know of this conference or that my name appeared." He said that he did incorporate some companies for Freeman but knew nothing of his alter ego Mark Boswell or his militia past, and knew nothing about Venture Resources Group.
So what do you get when you buy into the Rex Freeman network?
For a modest $15,000 "one time investment" in Venture Resources Group, you will be promised a half-dozen "profit centers." "The beef," as the website puts it, is "an entry level to Privacy Club Internacional (PCI). PCI has the Prime Rib and choice cut Tenderloin." As in "having active, operating, foreign companies or trusts working in low tax environments to manage business, investments and other revenue enhancing activity."
As a Managing Director in PCI your bonuses in the one level pay plan will be $750, $750 and $1000 on each of three different products which all your members will participate in. That's $2,500 per member and with our 'viral marketing '2 Up' system, you can start multiplying those figures times 10, X 20? X 50? Work out your own figures !! Are you prepared to make $250,000 this year?
This describes what in some jurisdictions is considered an illegal pyramid sales scheme, but which might more charitably be compared to an Amway pitch. At least Amway sells soap and stuff with their greed and right-wing ideology. The Venture Resources Group sells deceptively promoted seminars and cranky literature along with their greed and right-wing ideology.
For example, PCI members get the WG Hill Privacy and PT book collection on CD. The titles include
- "The 'PT' (Perpetual Traveler, Previous Taxpayer, Permanent Tourist)"
- "How to Become an Honorary Consul"
- "The Passport Report"
- "Portable Trades & Occupations" and
- "The Invisible Investor"
The latter work has been hawked in Panama before, by its co-author and publisher, one Marc M. Harris, now and for the next several years a resident of a US federal prison. Harris, the so-called "offshore asset protection guru," also started out in right-wing US political circles --- he was the Florida manager of Alexander Haig's ill-fated primary campaign for the 1988 GOP presidential nomination. But then Harris got his Florida CPA license yanked for doing an audit of a company he owned without disclosing the conflict of interest and subsequently fled to Panama. Here he put a Che Guevara poster on his wall and affected a revolutionary posture, attracted such admirers in the PRD as now Housing Minister Balbina Herrera, obtained the protection of the thuggish former Attorney General José Antonio Sossa, tooled around town in a Jaguar and had a great time until the pyramid collapsed and the Comision Nacional de Valores held that his operations were unlicensed and thus illegal securities businesses. A flight from creditors to Nicaragua was cut short when Harris was arrested and handed over to American law enforcement, who wanted him for money laundering.
All of the foregoing raised many questions in this reporter's mind, these of which were put to Freeman (Boswell) by email:
- Is Venture Resources Group registered with Panama's Comision Nacional de Valores or its Superintendencia de Bancos?
- Is InterGlobal Finance registered with Panama's Comision Nacional de Valores or its Superintendencia de Bancos?
- In your Escape Artist article you said that you were headed to Panama but stopped in Costa Rica along the way and decided to stay. Have you decided to move to Panama?
- At www.privacyclub.org/short_tour/benefits_main.htm you promote a book, "How to Become an Honorary Consul," and allege a 100 percent success rate. How many honorary consuls in Panama have become such due to information you have provided?
- Why should people not presume, on the face of it from your own promotions, that Venture Resources Group is a pyramid scheme?
Two of the emails provided on Freeman's websites didn't work --- one was apparently lapsed and the other had this "spam protection" feature that wouldn't let this reporter's queries through. The third address was the charm, and within a few hours it elicited the following response:
Re: Your Questions
From: "Strategic Management" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wed, August 2, 2006 6:01 pm
I'm in receipt of your email and your questions.
By the slant of your questioning, it appears to me that you are not looking to write an objective article based on the facts.
Rather than ask about our legal registration with regulatory authorities, why don't you ask about the nature of our activities to understand us enough in order to know if that is even appropriate? Maybe you don't care about that.
Rather than ask if we are an (illegal) pyramid 'scheme' why don't you define that for us first with specificity as the law defines it and then compare the actual characteristics of our program to such a scheme? Maybe you don't care about those facts.
Rather than create an adversarial environment with pointed questions coming from 'left field' and without introduction or establishing any premise for a dialog, why don't you ask for an interview with full disclosure of your purposes and intentions from the beginning? Maybe that's not important to your 'objective'.
It is clear to me that with your clumsy and unprofessional approach that you are not interested in the facts, but rather are looking for justification to go on a witch hunt.
I have plenty of experience with editors like you and under those circumstances you will write what you like to suit your agenda, regardless of the facts.
Therefore, there is no need for any interaction with me.
If you wish to have a meaningful and honest dialog and operate in good faith with clean hands, I am happy to accommodate. That's the only way I operate.
However, that is not what I see from you so far and thus, I'm not interested in what The Panama News has to say. Our market is not in Panama.
Be careful to stand on the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Your activities are very public and anything less than the truth always causes problems.
Now, now. Just because this reporter who did graduate from law school and pass the bar just had a few questions and didn't care to argue the intricacies of law with the champion of a third-hand hearsay fantasy about how the feds set off the Oklahoma City explosion....
And hey, now's the time to buy! If the president, first lady and agriculture minister can get on the Internet to pump mafia-linked teak swindles, and the vice president and the administrator of the Panama Canal Authority can meet with the likes of jailed political fixer Tongsun Park, everything's for sale in Panama. That includes the venture that Freeman a/k/a Boswell promotes as follows:
At this stage of the game, we have developed the perfect'PT' business. We generate significant profits from our computer using online, internet based trading platforms in the Fx markets. We can also trade stocks, precious metals, indexes and commodities if we like and we do play with that to a limited degree.
I can do this anywhere! The Fx markets trade 24 hours a day, 5 days a week. We recently took a trip to Europe. I could hook up my laptop in the hotel room to a broadband connection which is now readily available in most'name' hotels. No matter the time of day, or wherever I am, I can make money in the market. I was conducting my business in between tours in Paris, Vienna, Zurich, Lucern, Copenhagen and London !
What freedom! Being able to enjoy the best that the world has to offer, and my trading along the way paid for the trip, and then some!! How else can you do that?
In our training and development stages in the Fx markets we sorted through the bad and kept the good and have put all of this together now, into a complete training and support system for the benefit of others. We now wish to share the best of what we have learned and help others take shortcuts that we did not have available other than through our own trial and error. Through all of this experience we have developed a winning system and portfolio of resources that allows us to generate profits from our computer, from anywhere in the world, anytime of the day! I believe now, I am a true'PT'!
We have now put together a private investment club with an internet delivery system which allows access to the training and support materials we feel are needed for success. So, for those who seek the types of results in their lives that we have shared here, we are pleased to help and get you on the right track.
It was written as such on EscapeArtist.com, so it has to be true. Doesn't it?
Note by the author Eric Jackson: The original publication of this article in The Panama News is to be found online at http://www.thepanamanews.com/pn/v_12/issue_15/business_01.html-- it used to come up at the top of any Google advanced search for "Rex Freeman" but now not only does it not come up at the top, if you search for "Rex Freeman" and limit the search to http://www.thepanamanews.com it STILL does not come up at all on the Google search engine. But this convicted felon's boast about his prison time in Colorado ("Who is the real Rex Freeman") come up at the top. The guy charged me with a crime for reporting that he had been arrested for fraud -- but he was not only arrested but convicted and served prison time. (At the time when the story was written I only reported the arrest, as I had Colorado news reports about the arrest and court documents about the conviction, but did not know whether the conviction held up on appeal. It turned out that it did, and he served time in prison on the fraud charge.) The lawyer prosecuting me for criminal defamation (calumnia e injuria) was one Alejandro Moncada Luna, formerly General Noriega's special prosecutor in charge of shutting down opposition media, now Ricardo Martinelli's presiding magistrate of the Supreme Court of Justice of Panama. The complaint said that I lied when I noted his arrest for fraud in the case, and translated "hustler" as "estafador" and alleged that it was libelous to call him that.
I won the case because my story was true. But now Google has removed the true story that this country's home-grown and imported fascists attacked but could not disprove in court.
Notice that at the United Nations Ricardo Martinelli demanded the power to be able to censor the Internet in precisely this fashion, and Google has apparently given him this power. Was Google's action in response to an unethical communication from the president of Panama's Supreme Court, Mark Boswell alias Rex Freeman's lawyer? Perhaps. I don't know. Google doesn't say.
Repost this elsewhere, to make it ubiquitous on the web.
for The Panama News