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. If you feel you have been scammed and your money is not returned fill out a scam report or comment this one. Include the terms Epassporte, mallick media, oxymoron entertainment and chris mallick. Especially Oxymoron Entertainment.

    http://www.scamchecker.com/report/christopher-mallick-aka-john-christopher-mallick-aka-chris-mallick-oxymoron-entertainment-epa

    Thank you and good luck

  2. looking for mallick’s lawyer contact info!

  3. Did everyone get the last dime out of the St Kitts held visa cards? I think I still had $10 bucks on there.. grr
    At least one half of this nightmare is over.

  4. OxymoronEntertainment is a MallickMedia Company. Many people believe the funds have been hustled by the hustler into one of his other companies such as, Oxymoron Entertainment INC, 24-7 Commercial Marketing, StereoD LLC and a few others. Certainly they are incorporated in Calif. USA and subject to United States Law. It is reasonable to assume if you have received emails of support or promises to pay from any of these company email, then this would mark a breach of the protective corporate veil and so these companies can be sued in the United States.

    Shaliza Somani’s OneStarMedia Inc is a Canada corp. and subject to Canadian law.

    Report how and how much$ you have been Scammed out of here:

    http://www.scam.com/showthread.php?p=1005982#post1005982

    Payment Processing Fraud by Chris Mallick aka John Christopher Mallick, J Christopher Mallick.

    Oxymoron Entertainment Inc.: oxymoronent dot com

  5. OxymoronEntertainment
  6. i hope devil mallick will get his very well deserved punishment SOON

  7. Clien of zl attorneys

    Has any body work with Zahavi? He promissed me to get my funds in 10-14 days, it was in october, i even payed him 3k as he asked. I still didn’t get my money, he only promissess. Now he says that he don’t know wat to do and he cann’t release funds from eppassporte. Has any body got his money with help of Zahavi? I begining to belive that he scamed me. I think that he get an agreement with Mallick, Mallick payed him and now he fooling around all clients! It is my opinion, is any body think like me?

  8. Hi alex, i din’t get my 4000$ which is still in SKNANB bank.

    I never replied back to my email, which was sent to them with attached invoice they sent to fill it.

    Money lost. Since then i have emailed them 20 times, no reply.

  9. jim,

    Try.. vcsupport@sknanb.com
    Should get a reply in 24 hours or so, but for an amount that size I would def call them:

    Ph: +1-868-466-9733
    Fax: +1-869-466-9379

    Highly unlikely you have lost your money. I would have given anything to have had my money on Visa and not wallet.. sigh.

    Good luck!

  10. Client of zl attorneys:

    I’ve spoken to a number of people who had ZL act on their behalf and they have all been unsuccessful. Even “small” amounts like like a few thousand dollars were unrecoverable even by installments. Also, neither of them paid any money to the firm upfront, but rather negotiated payment AFTER the successful recovery of funds.

  11. Did anyone got an answer from epassporte and the money on wallet?! it’s been months!!!

  12. anxa,

    No, in all likelihood based on the various bits of information I have recieved the money is not forthcoming anytime in the forseeable future.

    http://www.details.com/culture-trends/critical-eye/201103/chris-mallick-middle-men

    Jim,

    Did you have any luck with St Kitts bank?

  13. Looks like ZL is doing quite well. They are fully in the U.S. Courts now to recover the wallet monies.

  14. I’m not in shock about receiving my funds any longer, as I was for a week or so after getting my $11,000 refunded on Nov 3rd… but I feel lucky for same and sad for all who did not receive their monies back. I posted here at the time but I can’t find my post now, although Krebs remarked about it then so I don’t think he removed it; no reason for him to do so.

    • $11.000 haha why are you the only one that states you have had your money back and there’s 100’s of others that wont see a cent again including me. Maybe you are Mallick. Good luck to all the genuine people that are trying to get there money back

  15. @ianian

    Were your wallet funds from adult or mainstream work?

    I am curious if you were a mainstream affiliate marketer.

    • My funds were from adult sites. That’s why I don’t want to really chase it up and Mallick knows this, I cant really take him to court and say this is my money from cyber sex sites

  16. @brian sure you can chase it up, you made the money legally. You can take him to court by an attorney. You never gave anyone permission to use your money for their personal crap.

  17. oh god………… i hope he ll lose all his money.i want my 4000 back :(

  18. Any news about our epassporte wallet money? Aren’t any laws to protect us from guys like this stealing our moeny. Ok he said that he will give money back but allready April and epassporte shut down in September.. So if Mallik gives money back in 20 yers should we accept that? What IC3 and other authorities do?

  19. Mallick, I’m coming to get you .

  20. After futher searching I’ve found this: First Murder of epassporte, does it will be another one ? :
    http://gfy.com/showthread.php?t=988829
    Mallick do you see this? Also authorities at least one update Tell us something beside that last message from epassporte website

  21. I wanna get my money back from epassporte I just want direction of how to go about it. Any suggestions. Mine is only just over 900$ but why should Mallick have that. Its mine and I want it back. I am in UK so any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks

  22. well brian, u cant. i have $4000. they said they ll wire the money to a bank account. lies. im waiting since september last year lol

  23. Surely there has to be a way of taking him to the courts. The money he has taken from all of us must be millions. If it was the likes of you and me we would be through the courts and have our assets seized. So what do we all do. Just forget about it and let him enjoy our cash. It is fraud and he must be held accountable. Maybe it be better if we all club together and get a attorney to chase it up. Mine is not enough to go it alone as 2 hours would swallow up my 900$ I just don’t like to see him getting away with it

    • @Brian

      He (epass) has been taken to court in Curacao, made agreement to pay and then he broke the agreement.
      There is supposedly lawsuit inside the USA now and a settlement pending for those clients. Why didn’t you lawyer up months ago?

      • I have never tried to get a attorney in the USA as I am in England UK And to pursue this on my own would be quite expensive seeing as I am owed only 900 US dollars I was just hoping as most of us here at this site that epassporte were going to honour their promises that they made. So I was just going along with the flow of things. But its about time a group of us all got together to secure the services of a attorney to see if there is any chance of getting our money back or part of our money back. This was we can all spread the costs incurred

  24. Can you please provide names, website etc to that lawsuit in USA? Or eaven the one in Curacao never heard about any of them ..

  25. Anyone get their money back from Mallick?

  26. No I never got mine back. Some people said they got their money back. But I find that hard to believe. We have all been conned

  27. I had a little over $15.000 in my ePassporte Wallet. Every now’n then I search for info hoping I’d finally find some good news, but time went by… it will soon turn into a one full year…

    I guess we won’t ever see our money back. I’m from somewhere in the eastern EU. What I don’t get is how come nobody went crazy enough… to just go search for this Mallick guy. I bet others lost even larger amounts, and, after all, in the US people have guns, some are shooting around other people for even less money, and certainly not for bein stold, but for stealing themselves.

    How come no one cared to say “hi” to Mallik face-to-face so far? If I’d be living in the US I’d consider buying a sniper gun and travel across the country.

    Actually, I wouldn’t. But I doubt that out of the hundreds or even thousands of scammed clients there is not even one who’s crazy enough…

    Anyways… It’s the wild-wild west. It’s unbelievable that there have been no serious lawsuits against Mallik, and that the law had nothing to say in his case. Perhaps it’s because he can blackmail politicians, as he’s shown it in “Middle Man”?

  28. Wild Wild West: just shy of $32k here. Double what you lost.. feel a bit better? :) Luckily I made several sizable withdrawals or it could have been a real horror story.

    I have been saying the same thing you have.. Makes you think if this guy is even IN the US? Or maybe living it up on the Caribbean with our money? A friend of a colleague lost close to 200k and others similar amount to me, and that’s just within my circle. I am sure he has amassed quite a fortune from folks around the globe.

    In this day and age of youtube and social video media, why hasn’t he been ambushed on the street and a phone cam jammed in his face? I don’t encourage or condone violence to him or his family, but his life should be made uncomfortable. Does he travel in secret? Maybe he lives underground? I live in Australia so like you I’m a fair distance away.. many folks in LA probably live in the same neighborhood or near his place of business.. it’s summer in North America so how about a sleep out outside his house or work? I still haven’t seen Middle Men.. maybe I should since I helped finance it?

    All the best,

    Alex

  29. I appeal to all of you to ask the US Department of Justice why Mr Mallick The Thief is not being prosecuted? How could it be possible?

  30. most of us are a bunch of webcammers and none of us has the guts and the money 2 get lawyers :(