15
Sep 10

Following the Money, ePassporte Edition

A few weeks ago, I blogged about the financial troubles afflicting ePassporte, an online payment provider whose sudden disconnection from the Visa network left many account holders without access to millions of dollars. I became interested in ePassporte because it kept popping up as I was investigating stories related to affiliate programs that reward people who peddle things like rogue anti-virus products and spam.

Since then, I’ve heard from a large number of disgruntled ePassporte account holders, most of whom were or are in the online porn industry, a market that ePassporte’s CEO Chris Mallick helped to nurture. In fact, as I noted in that original blog entry, Mallick produced “Middle Men,” a movie released by Paramount in August that is a fictionalized account of his experiences in the porn billing industry.

Many of those readers have been asking for an update on this story, and I’m afraid I don’t have a whole lot more to report. But the old adage about following the money led me to at least try to understand a bit more about how ePassporte is structured, and where its money may be.

Before I get to that, it makes sense to restate what’s been said by the parties involved. On Sept. 2, ePassporte owner Chris Mallick sent an e-mail to account holders saying the company was notified that effective immediately, Visa International had suspended the ePassporte Visa program, a card issued by St. Kitts Nevis Anguilla National Bank that ePassporte customers could use to withdraw cash at ATMs worldwide.

I contacted Visa for comment on that story, and the following Tuesday received a statement from Visa via e-mail saying that it had disconnected ePassporte at the request of St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank to “address certain program deficiencies.” Neither Visa nor SKNA Bank has been willing to discuss what those deficiencies may have been. A story in the St. Kitts Nevis Observer quotes a St. Kitts National Bank representative as saying Visa had cleared them of any wrongdoing, although that official – Patricia Wilkinson – declined to say who had accused them of wrongdoing or answer any other questions when I reached her by phone on Monday.

In checking out numerous forums and looking up bank and incorporation records online, I learned that ePassporte is incorporated in Curaçao, an island in the southern Caribbean Sea, off the coast of Venezuela. Indeed, the ePassporte Visa cards themselves include this information, indirectly at least, with the statement:

“This card is issued by St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank Limited” (“Bank”) pursuant to a license from Visa International and under a co-branding agreement between ePassporte N.V. and the bank.”

The Web site for the Curaçao Chamber of Commerce & Industry says ePassporte N.V. is registered at the address Kaya Richard J. Beaujon Z/N, Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles. The managing director of the company is a man named Gregory E. Elias (the same information is included in a old WHOIS records search for epassporte.com).

According to multiple ePassporte users with whom I’ve corresponded, any wires or bank transfers used to deposit funds in ePassporte accounts are sent to ePassporte N.V. via an entity called United International Bank N.V., an organization founded in 2009. Interestingly, United International Bank also lists the same Curaçao address, and lists Mr. Elias as a director, among others. So, on the surface at least, it appears that ePassporte and its primary bank are owned and operated by the same entity and directors.

I was able to locate a phone number for Mr. Elias and reached him this morning at United International Trust. Elias said he had no idea ePassporte customers were having trouble withdrawing their money from the bank, but he declined to answer direct questions about the situation.

“The only thing we can tell you is if you send your inquires and questions in writing to us, we will pass them on to Mr. Mallick and his lawyers,” Elias said. “We cannot go over queries over the phone. We never do that.” Elias declined to give me his e-mail address, saying I should be able to find it if I really were an investigative reporter.

Mallick and ePassporte have yet to respond to requests for comment. Mallick issued another statement Sept. 10 via an adult Webmaster forum, urging customers who were having trouble withdrawing their funds to be patient. “Our staff is all working diligently to resolve these issues and the many moving and complicated parts of getting the funds returned,” Mallick wrote.  “Therefore, please do not mistake our silence as hiding, avoiding or stringing you along. We too have funds that are stuck in the system as well as massive costs of operation without any income.”

But bereft of any hard information from ePassporte, the company’s customers have begun spinning conspiracy theories about what could have fueled the entire fiasco. Some have pointed to Mallick’s film, which according to Web site boxofficemojo.com cost an estimated $20 million but grossed less than $800,000 in a three week run at the box office that ended in late August.

In any event, I put some of the information I found into a spreadsheet (a portion of which is included below), mainly to help me understand the relationship between the various interested parties as I followed the trail of other stories I’ve been working on. It may be useful to some ePassporte customers: It includes Mr. Elias’ e-mail address and phone number.

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353 comments

  1. Anonymous Secure Surfing,

    I tried again and it still comes back returned. Can you look at the spelling and make sure it is correct or maybe you can copy and paste your email address with spaces so the spammers don’t use it.

  2. Still no replies to my mails from epassporte or the bank I think there so many people bullshitting here saying they got there money back. I don’t believe it for one moment. We have all been robbed. Fact

  3. Mr Elias told me via email that they have never had epass wallet funds at United. Every email I sent to him, he then fwd to mallick at oxymoron or mallick at his webmail and a few other people.

    Strange..

  4. Some guys who I would deem trustworthy have said they have recieved some email correspondece from epass which indicates some distant forms of life may still exist there.. this is probably just a delay tactic while mallick figures out a way to destroy all evidence that epass every existed and any claimants can look like nutjobs and be ready to carted off to the looney bin by the white coats.

  5. Writing here doesn’t seem to work either. No one here knows how to contact anyone or how about going to get our money back. Just need a good contact email address to put me in the right direction on how to contact somebody at either epassporte or someone at the bank they say to contact. Anybody know ?

  6. Money is gone now. I’m 100% sure.

    It has been over 2 months, i sent my details to the bank. No reply.

    I’m pretty much sure, money is gone and yes i can’t do anything about it now.

    Someone please rob that bank, and give me my money.

  7. I’m not really complicated for this, ($273, but yields like a thousand here.) Buuuuuuuuut i feel stupid believeing (how you spell this? O__O) that the manouver of the wallet thing was something to protect your funds against scam -__- while them with that money were doing crappy films…..

    And they still saying that they will send me a mail :d still waiting… haha

    It’s quite obvious that the wallet thing was the scam gestation from the first moment.- This guy deserves jail 😮

    greetings from Buenos Aires

  8. Are we all just still sending messages here at this site back and forth and still no sign of what we are all really looking for. OUR MONEY BACK

  9. yeps i lost my hope too. i lost my $4000 stuck in wallet 🙁

  10. Mine is not as much I’m in for $900.00 plus But I’m still pissed about it. Well I just hope that guy Mallick gets a few beers down his neck with my money and chokes to death on them. And for anybody here saying they have had their money back I don’t believe that for one minute

    • @Brian

      ur really pissed over 900 bucks aren’t you?

      I have some news.

      • I’m not really that bothered about the $900.00 now as I treat it as lost. I get more pissed off when idiots that maybe have not lost anything at all make stupid comments. So I’m guessing you would not be to bothered is someone ripped you off for 900 bucks ? Maybe that would be your whole months benefit check

  11. Im in the situation of losing money as well…. mine only amounted to a little over 400 dollars, but for me that was a fortune… so looking at these comments i dont think it is the amount.. it is the losing of the money which we have no control over that i think stinks… i keep sending my forms into e passporte and all i keep getting when i log in now is you have to fill out your forms and re admit, but it now wont let me do this….
    I feel for everyone who has lost money on the e passporte large or small… ITS JUST NOT RIGHT OR FAIR..
    Also i have not put my comment on here for people to have a go back at me, this is just how i feel right now…

  12. Got this e-mail yesterday……….

    Dear SKNANB Visa Prepaid Cardholder,

    Please be advised that effective January 12th, 2011 SKNANB will be closing the SKNANB Visa Prepaid program. SKNANB Visa Prepaid Cardholders will be able to use their prepaid cards up to this date only.

    If you have a remaining balance, we highly recommend that you utilize such balances during the month of December 2010.

    Those persons who do not use their funds by January 12th, 2011 will need to make arrangements with SKNANB to receive the funds remaining on your SKNANB Visa prepaid card(s) through another payment option offered to you by the Bank, at an additional cost.

    Details regarding the alternative payment options along with associated costs may be obtained by emailing us at vcsupport@sknanb.com or by calling our call center between the hours of 9am and 4pm Atlantic Standard Time, Mondays to Fridays on +1.869-466-9733.

    This closure does not affect any of our other card programs including the Visa debit card program, the MasterCard Dinero program, merchant processing etc.

    All of us at SKNANB wish you and yours a very joyful Holiday Season.

    Cardholder Services

  13. I don’t understand, why some people can’t follow epassporte instructions. just ask for wire request form and fill out correctly. then mail to the proper address so you get your money in 7-10 days. I did this many times last summer sheesh some guys are just so lazy to complain.

  14. Last summer epassporte were still operating, You cant even contact epassporte now to get a form. Your behind the times Get you facts correct before you comment

  15. Says right on the website login and fill out form.
    not that hard

  16. Here is what it says and this is all that it says:

    ============

    ePassporte has opened up the website to allow you to submit requests for repayment of the funds on your ePassporte Wallet Account. As we have previously informed you, you will need to contact St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank to receive your Visa Virtual Card funds. SKNANB can be contacted at http://www.sknanb.com.

    You must follow the steps described below so that ePassporte may most efficiently and quickly repay your funds.

    Account Holder funds will be repaid by wire transfer and a US$50 wire transfer fee will be charged.

    If you do not have a bank account to which ePassporte can send a wire transfer, please send an email to walletrequest@epassporte.com. Please put “NO BANK ACCOUNT” and your username in the subject line. This will enable us to communicate with you as quickly as possible to identify an alternate method to return your funds.

    You do not have sufficient funds in your Wallet account to complete a bank wire transfer.
    ==========

  17. Jet,

    Is that for the benefit of elison?
    Have you recieved any email correspondence from epassporte? Just wondering.. cos.. “You do not have sufficient funds..” implies some sort of interaction or your getting that message when logging in and clicking on the wire transfer link..

    I’m not sure but I think they have condensed the text on the homepage.. soon enough it will be blank, right before they pull the site off hosting and domain resolves to a park page.

  18. Quite a lot of us are still hanging around my website http://www.epassportesucks.com if you want to come join us there. We cannot let this die down and float away into cyberspace. There has GOT to be some way to find Christopher Mallick and make him accountable in some form or fashion. Regardless of the laws of the country ST. KITT’s Bank is in everyone deserves their money owed paid in full. Is there not laws about American’s committing crimes in other countries? I am very surprised this was not a national/international television news stories especially with the millions of dollars Mr. Mallick has seemed to have run away with and disappeared. He is a Texan by birth. You know what will happen to him if another Texan catches him. 😉 (winky da wink wink) 😀

  19. 4 months and still nothing about my 7000.00, sux!

  20. WHEN ON EARTH WILL WE BE PAID?! I want my 4000$ wallet, N O W

    • I don’t understand you people. You live in USA, Mallicks contacts, address, is on net. Why you don’t catch him and cut him or one of the member of his family. I live in Russia it difficult for me to get visa to USA but I still trying and when I get her I will get back my money no doubt! You have a lot of gangs there: Mexican, Black why you don’t hire them?

  21. epassport wallet

    Hi All,

    If you have funds stuck in your wallet account contact this lawyer firm

    zlattorneys.com , ( Daniel es the person you should contact )

    They are working to recover funds for some members and they can do it for international members also. Their office is in Curacao and it seems so far the only way to go.

  22. lol as if an attorney could solve this

  23. Has he helped anyone yet? Any evidence?

  24. It seems so, you can read some testimonials here : http://www.epassportelawsuit.com/

    we wont receive our money from epassporte… so we dont have nothing to lose trying with a lawyer firm , I am trying their services . If I recover my funds I will post it .

  25. Trade name EPASSPORTE N.V.
    Legal form Limited Liability Company
    Official company name EPASSPORTE N.V.
    Statutory seat Curaçao
    Date of incorporation August 19, 2002
    Date last amendment December 29, 2005
    Date established August 19, 2002
    Date discontinuation December 17, 2010

    URL: curacao-chamber.an/info/registry/excerpt.asp?mode=edit&companyid=90353&establishmentnr=0&legalformid=51

    Screenshot: img607.imageshack.us/img607/7293/epassporteregisterdec20.png

  26. Dear ***********,

    With reference to your message we herewith inform you that the registration of I ePassporte N.V. is cancelled as of December 17, 2010, due to the fact that the company is not active on the island (no local representative appointed in the file).

    Please note that the above-mentioned corporation still exists (the company is not dissolved and liquidated) and through the appointed of a (another) local representative, the registration of the above mentioned company with the Commercial Register will be immediately reinstated.

    We trust to have informed you sufficiently. If you have any further questions and or remarks on the above, please do not hesitate to contact us.

    Sincerely
    Curaçao Chamber of Commerce and Industry

    I.N.M. Janga
    Registry Affairs

  27. the day we’ll get our money back i’ll believe in miracles

  28. I lost 20k.
    I will have revenge

  29. @charlie

    I bet many people feel that way. theres a spreadsheet of names of employees and mallicks other companies and family at the cashburners forum at

    url: bit (dot).ly/dOI7u0

    http://bit.ly/dOI7u0

    His son attends vanderbilt Univ. Feel free to mail him and talk about his father: sam.mallick or sam.t.mallick at vanderbilt.edu

  30. SKNANB din’t reply to my email. I filled all neccessary details, which they sent me to and sent them back. Its over 3 months, and now they are goin to close VISA card on 12th of Jan.

    Robbers. Lost 4K for sure now.