Has Bruce Wagner pulled off the biggest financial scam on the bitcoin community? UPDATE2 (A long fucking post.)
Bruce Wagner is the host of OnlyOneTV and the organizer of the Bitcoin Conference, and he’s a bit of a character. He seems to hate women and blames them for being victims of rape. He had vehemently advocated moving the bitcoin conference to Pattaya, Thailand, which just so happens to be the underage prostitution capitol of the world. Hell, he’s even posted about tips on how to pickup boys for sex.
But Bruce is also a convicted scammer and con man. He’s even fled the state and still owes thousands of dollars in outstanding debts and restitution. He’s had a mortgage fraud scheme backfire on him and been estimated to have stolen over a million dollars from people losing their homes in foreclosure.
And he may have pulled off one of the most successful scams on the bitcoin community.
This all started unraveling when notorious Something Awful forums poster Three Olives did a little scratching under the surface of who Bruce was before bitcoins. It all started innocently enough with a post on the SpamCop forums. The post was nothing of importance, but it did have a rather unique signature:
Bold Funding, Inc.
Who or what was Bold Funding? Glad you asked! Bold funding perpetrated one of the largest mortgage frauds in Chicago history. Here’s how it all went down:
In 2004, Bold Funding maintained its “headquarters” at a commercial post office box at 40 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago, Illinois. Bold Funding also operated a website at www.boldfunding.com and sponsored hundreds of commercials on local and out-of-state radio stations. On its website and radio commercials, Bold Funding claimed that it could save homes from foreclosure even after a Sheriff s sale. Homeowners in foreclosure sent thousands of dollars to Bold Funding under the belief that Bold Funding would secure funding to refinance their mortgages and save their homes. The Defendants did not arrange or provide any funding. Neither Bold Funding nor Bruce Wagner ever possessed an Illinois residential mortgage broker’s or lender’s license.
In Civil Court on April 18, 2006, Judge Julia Nowicki ordered Bold Funding and Bruce Wagner to refund $115,858 in application fees to 74 former customers who never received any funding from the Defendants. Bold Funding and Bruce Wagner were also fined $250,000, and the Defendants were permanently banned from providing any services in Illinois related to residential mortgage loans.
“The taking of monies from vulnerable homeowners in foreclosure under false pretenses is reprehensibleX,” Devine said. “Any company which purports to help homeowners who are in foreclosure must follow the law and fulfill its promises to assist its customers.”
Bruce Wagner and his Bold Funding company went to desperate homeowners who had recently been foreclosed on in the housing crisis. Bruce and Co. told these desperate homeowners that “We can save your homes! Just pay a $2,000 deposit and we’ll get the paperwork through and keep you in your homes!”. Then they decided to sit on their hands and do nothing, while continuing to pocket the deposits these desperate homeowners had paid them. Truly preying on the weak. All told, Bruce and Co. ended up having to pay back $115,858 to 74 homeowners plus a $250000 fine for being worthless sacks of shit.
One interesting comment on that page had this tidbit:
remember hearing about the collapse of Bold Funding on the news when it all went down in 2004. It was probably the largest, most sophisticated foreclosure scam I’ve ever heard about, before or since then. $116,000 or so in refunds doesn’t begin to compensate all of the victims. And now the owner, it seems, fled to another state and is trying to start his own talk show!
Actually, Bruce never fled Illinois, he was kicked out by the state according to his judgement.
A) Defendant Bold Funding and Defendant Bruce Wagner are permanently enjoined from owning, operating, managing, or supervising any form of business in Illinois which offers or provides any residential mortgage brokering, originating, or loan servicing activities.
B) Defendant Bold Funding and Defendant Bruce Wagner are permanently enjoined from offering or providing any residential mortgage brokering, originating, or loan servicing activities to any member of the public located in Illinois or for any property located in Illinois.
Could this just be a mistake? Maybe another Bruce Wagner? Nope, Bruce himself admitted it’s him, although it’s VERY MISLEADING and just a “misunderstanding”.
What happened though… in short is…. We were a victum of our own success. At the same time that we had just begun a radio advertising campaign… mortgage foreclosures hit an all time high.
We were suddenly swamped with applications to process. We hired more people as fast as we could, but there was no time to train them. It was a disaster. A management and planning disaster. As a result, we dropped the ball. We did not get applications processed fast enough.
Just a paperwork issue is all! Hundreds of thousands of dollars in paperwork issues. And a court judgement against him for paperwork issues. And being kicked out of Illinois and never being able to do business in that state again. Over paper-fucking-work issues.
I mean seriously, look at these poor people Bruce Wagner stole thousands and thousands of dollars from:
Two years ago Bobby Whitehead was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. He tried to keep working but eventually lost his business and fell behind in mortgage payments. Whitehead turned to a company called Bold Funding, giving them a $1,200 check.
“It was devastating because it was the last money I had because I’m on disability now. So I sent them the last money I had,” said Bobby Whitehead
Sorry Mr. Whitehead, it was all a big paperwork misunderstanding! Pobody’s Nerfect!
With some more formal digging, we also see some interesting things start to emerge. We see a pattern forming. Here’s Bruce’s business history:
1995-2002 Dublin OH/ Columbus OH
2002-03/2004 Chicago IL
03/2004-03/2005 Minden NV Business Perminately Revoked due to Registered Agent Resignation. Basically, he fled. Again.
2005-2006 FL? not sure
2006-yesterday New York
Guys gets around.
But all of this is in the past. The guy paid his fine, and he’s a productive member of society. Sure, he was convicted of financial fraud, and now he’s an unapologetic supporter of an anonymous currency, but what’ the harm there? What could he possibly be scamming for? What’s your angle Mr. Buttcoin? HMMMM???
Well, hang onto your butts because it’s about to get real conspiracy theory-like up in here.
If you recall a number of weeks ago, there was an incident with MyBitcoin.com where they simply disappeared off the internet. No notice or anything, just vanished into thin air. MyBitcoin was the largest online wallet service, storing hundreds of thousands of bitcoin wallets, Bruce himself admitting to having 25,000 coins personally. Some investigating into the people behind MyBitcoin turned up nothing but a private whois and a server overseas. MyBitcoin was officially called dead.
But a week after MyBitcoin’s disappearance, suddenly the site comes up again. There’s a press release from someone named Tom Williams (take note) and here’s what he had to say about the situation:
Thursday, August 4th, 2011
From the desk of Tom Williams, operator of MyBitcoin.com
For immediate release.
As you have probably noticed, MyBitcoin.com had been down for almost a week due to an unfortunate event.
On Friday of last week we noticed that one of our pooled holding servers was missing a large amount of Bitcoins. After a prompt investigation we realized that the security of ourSCI(Shopping Cart Interface) system had been breached by an unknown attacker.
MyBitcoin was another victim of a hacking attempt on a bitcoin site. Hackers supposedly made off with half the coins on the site with MyBitcoin pledging to pay back the remaining coins. Bruce was another poor victim of the constant bitcoin scams plaguing the community, his friends and family, loyal supporters and himself personally losing hundreds of thousands of dollars of bitcoins.
Or, he perpetrated the whole thing and has pulled off the most sophisticated scam in bitcoin history.
Remember that name Tom Williams? Well, if we go back to Bruce’s scamming days with Bold Funding, we see something interesting. It allegedly looks like there was a bit of astroturfing going on for his company. Someone was posting very flattering things to say about Bold Funding, including gems like this:
That forum is littered in posts like this, all from the same guy, Tod Williams.
If you examine the writing style, you realize it’s very similar to Bruce’s writing style on the bitcoin forums. Moreover, it’s the type of thing bruce would do, pump up his own company to boost reputation. Bruce is a natural hype man. I am convinced this is Bruce astroturfing his old company.
UPDATE: As was pointed out in the comments, according to the court documents not a single client of Bold Funding got the funding they were promised. This “Tod Williams” seems to be the only one who has claimed to have success with Bruce’s company. Tod is most definitely a shill.
So, to reiterate.
Tod Williams is Bruce hyping up Bold Funding
Tom Williams is the owner who kept 50% of the coins in MyBitcoin
Bruce Wagner is/was heavily involved in both companies.
It’s my opinion that Bruce was, if not responsible, somehow profited from my MyBitcoin fiasco. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bruce’s supposed 25,000 coin wallet is in actuality the entire MyBitcoin wallet.
What a better person to steal an anonymous currency than someone who’s been convicted of doing that exact thing before.
UPDATE2: Some more interesting information from the comments section.
Earlier today, MyBitcoin.com had a hiccup and went down, throwing up error pages.
Here’s what it looked like:
Saved version here.
Here’s something interesting.
This is OnlyOneTV.com’s whois info:
So, MyBitcoin.com and OnlyOneTV.com are hosted at the same obscure, crappy webhost?
This is pretty damning information if I’m reading this right.
And for fun, here’s a bunch of other crimes Bruce has been convicted of:
Didn’t think of using lexisnexus
fyi bruce’s stuff in new york:
EDIT: Notice: The nature of this action is assault; landlord tenuant occuppancy, and use, fraud in the induicement.
The relief sought is $514,400. As of 11 December 2010, this is still ongoing.
Yup, it sounds like Bruce is wanted in NY as well.
Franklin County Ohio
YOB: 1961, DEFINITELY not 29. Speeding tickets show relationship with Edward Gel, and was there till 2002.
EDIT: Evicted in Jan 2002 due to non-payment.
Shoot, there is a lot of dirt in Ohio’s Court records.
Lived there from 1995-2002 citations include:
Such a good person to play with Bitcoins.
(fyi - http://www.fcmcclerk.com/ is the website for public records. this is all small claims, but shows a pattern)
Admin Note: I have spoken to Bruce and he has declined to comment on anything in this article for me.