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How Epic Media Group Fucked Affiliates

I don’t use vulgarities very often in my writing, but I had no other way to express my feelings about what is happening right now with Epic Media Group fka Azoogle. If you have been living under a rock, Epic Media Group aka Connexus aka TrafficMarketPlace fka Azooogle is out of business and is basically refusing to pay affiliates. I’ve attached a letter sent to all the affiliates and publishers of the company, basically telling them to go screw-off, and not to even bother contacting them because so many other people are owed money.

What this letter does not show is how the company royally screwed affiliates, and almost a year ago the executives knew that the company was eventually going to go out of business.  They were so certain the company was in trouble that all the executives of the company left Epic Media Group, took the profitable social media assets and turned it into another company called Kinetic Social. Same CEO, same clients, same executive staff. Even the same f’ing text on the site according to a commenter on AdExchanger.

Below, note the linkedin of the four top executives at Kinetic Social, and how they all left Epic/TrafficMarketPlace at the same time, picked up the pieces and made a new company.

In fact, if you look at Kinetic Social on Linkedin, it seems that almost the entire staff is made up of Epic Social, Traffic Marketplace Employees.

Simply put: they wanted to make sure that the profitable part of the company was not associated with the part they knew would eventually go out of business. They were so certain, in my opinion, that the company had no future that they made people who just a year previously were affiliate managers actual officers and executives in the company, and gave them jobs they knew they couldn’t fulfill. It is my opinion that they planned to kill the company. I predicted that Epic would be shut down months before they announced it, and I was right — all the signs were there that they were planning this.

So why isn’t Epic doing a bankruptcy? Simple:  I believe that this scheme that they planned could not currently survive bankruptcy court. There is a principle called fraudulent conveyance, which in the case of a bankruptcy means basically a company cannot transfer profitable assets out of a company in order to protect them from the debtors of the original company.  If I am right about my suspicions, what they did is possibly illegal if the purpose was to keep from paying debtors.

What Epic is doing is waiting as long as they can, making sure that the time between the new company’s creation is over a year, before they can do a bankruptcy. Then they can claim that the creation of the company, the separation of the assets was not planned and is completely a coincidence.

Again, I sincerely believe that Epic’s Executives knew the company was going to crash and took the profit out of the company and waited until Epic crashed and burned.

The real kicker of this is that according to former clients of Epic, Kinetic Social is now working for them and billing them under the new name. Yes, you heard that – they are billing former Epic clients, according to an insider I spoke with, and telling them to pay Kinetic Social instead of Epic.

Any other questions on why and how Epic is fucking affiliates and publishers?

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Pace Lattin

Pace Lattin is one of the top experts in interactive advertising, affiliate marketing. Pace Lattin is known for his dedication to ethics in marketing, and focus on compliance and fraud in the industry, and has written numerous articles for publications from MediaPost, ClickZ, ADOTAS and his own blogs.

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60 Comments

  1. I spoke to an advertiser yesterday who claimed Epic is now billing the same business under the new name…so even in my case getting stiffed from a deal they paid Epic….This is the same strategy Copeac did.

    1. Why didn’t they take a page out of the click fathers book and just claim it was fraud? That’s worked well for xy7 for so many years

        1. Pace you didnt like my comment? Was it the links exposing the clickfather for what he is? Dont let your personal relationship get in the way, it walks like a duck, talks like a duck and waddles like a duck its a duck. Kevin wants you to think its a shinny piece of gold

          Such a shame this board is censored but thats your choice right?

          1. MK: Read the rules regarding leaving comments. First, stay on point, secondly personally attacks are not allowed. Third, you included links – links are automatically banned, because we have CommentLuv.

            Lastly, cough… pretending to be someone else isn’t exactly cool, MK.

  2. This is really scary SCAM method, all the director knows and can easily predicting what will gonna be happen on their company but they took some assets and money before bankrupt. What a scary scammer !!

  3. I can’t help but to be sad about Epic going down. I was a merchant of Epic’s for some time and they always shot me straight. Guess I am just being nostalgic.

    1. The original owners are friends of mine, I loved the company. Unfortunately paying management as much as $500k a year each isn’t a good idea?

      1. It looks like Media Trust is getting ready to do the same thing.. Not paying their affiliates for the last 3 months.. Just another once good company that is now apparently penniless and looking to take affiliates for a big A$$ f**king.

        Don’t let them pace.. Do your research and put them on blast..

  4. Epic/Azoogle:

    I always liked them and we worked well with them since 06. When my team and I went to the playboy mansion with them last July, I thought something was fishy – we didn’t talk much business – it felt more like “a last hoorah” then anything else (knowing the industry was in massive decline) I assumed it would be a time to shore up good relationships. I’m hoping the jokers who setup the fall-guy staff get whats coming to them. This industry is obsessed with loosely throwing around the word “fraud” for just about everything, we finally have a really good example. These clown execs over at Epic jacked a lot of their clients to stay alive – I didn’t sign up to fund their new project. That’s a pretty good definition of Fraud.

    They got me:

    they paid me for Mar. 2012 (cool) but they got us for 5 figures for April. I’m looking forward to some drama…would like to see some bad guys get a good ol’ fashion NY business ass kicking including losing personal assets for the scam they concocted.

  5. How can they pull this off and just change names? It sounds like they are trying to close down and open under Kinetic Social. They didn’t even build Kinetic Social, they bought it and it was the only successful piece of their business so they are trying pivot. The executives are still the same crooks and if they screw us once, they will do it again.

  6. I was wondering if anyone would ever notice. I mean it’s so blatant. The contact numbers and addresses are even the same on their websites. Horrible.

  7. The title is vulgar, too bad the word ‘swindled’ is out of style.
    These artful execs know the game I’m sure that they are sleeping well at night, at least for now. News travels through the affiliate community quickly, unless they start a new company in a new industry, I doubt this second company will last long.

  8. A few comments from an innocent bystander. I have no affiliation with Epic.

    1) There is a chance that affiliates could actually get paid. Let’s suppose that EPIC had $5 million of net working capital – $10MM of accounts receivable less $5 million of accounts payable. If the company can collect on the receivables owed to it, there is a chance that affiliates could ultimately get paid. This is known as a working capital unwind. It all depends on collections.

    2) The company forming a new business could actually be a good thing for affiliates wanting to get paid. The reason is that all the overhead costs have left the company. If the company still had a lot of employees, then all the cash would go to pay their salaries first and you second. At least you have a fighting chance.

    3) If affiliates banded together, there is a chance you could go after Epic for cutting sweat heart deals to its former employees for the assets and intellectual property. In otherwords, you could argue that the assets were “Fraudently Conveyed” at the expense of other creditors. The hard part is finding an attorney that would take your case.

  9. I was defrauded out of very little money but it is the principal. They knew they weren’t paying anyone when they signed me up. I believe that there was something potentially illegal going on. There is no way they wouldn’t just file bankruptcy and be done with everyone if there wasn’t something to that.
    There is a provision in bankruptcy law that allows the creditors to band together and force a company into bankruptcy. I may be mistaken but I believe it only takes about three creditors with a total owed of more than about $15,000 to file the petition. SOme of you guys who are owed tens of thousands of dollars should do this before there are no assets left to attach.

  10. There VP of Sales is running around NYC telling people Kinetic is not the same company as Epic. I guess they will never stop lying. Does anyone know if Kinetic is paying their publishers? I know they are running campaigns and now I know they are the same company. I dont understand why they dont make an effort to fix their reputation…Can’t trust them.

  11. Pace why don’t you bring up the INVOLVEMENT of your friends ALEX and JOE who founded the company and quietly left before all this mess to start their PET FOOD COMPANY.

    They MIGHT have HAD A HAND in this “manufactured” fraudulent conveyance you mentioned!!!

  12. Joe / Alex did not sell the company. They made some arrangements with their VC companies and got out before this mess.

  13. LOL that “attorney letter” is one of the worst written things I’ve ever seen from such a supposed professional. Run-on sentences, grammatical errors, and just plain poorly constructed sentences. Where on earth did they find that “firm”, in the classified section of their local Penny Saver??

  14. They lied to me for over a year…kept saying checks were sent, money was paid etc..when it stopped.

    How come Bernie Mandoroff gets like 50 years and these crooks get away with it?

    LOCK THEM UP!

  15. :S

    The owed me 16k usd.

    If they dont pay me,,, I gonna show the world that Kinetic Social is a fraud and made with very bad people.

    Going to every Adtech and AffiliateSummit in USD to tell my story and give flyers telling about the fraud!

    :S

    1. Sadly, they’ll probably sue you for this.

      Man I got to set my -self up a legal Fraud biz. Screw ethics and work!

  16. Thanks for posting this, Pace. We were going to work with them after meeting them at Affiliate Summit West in January, but I will make sure that we do not give them any business.

  17. Our company was owed 6 figures by them for over a year. They have paid it all down except for the last $15,000 which we have already filed suit over. If they knew the ship was sinking, they did take care of some people (under the threat of legal action, of course). As an affiliate/ad network, I do miss the Azoogle days, but not the Epic days. Does anybody know where it all went wrong for them? We have some ideas and stories we have heard…

  18. I have been owed money as of last from these guys…It was nothing too big, but I carried on referring traffic to them for a few months after that because I didn’t realise they were basically fu**ed.

    It was only on Warrior Forum that I found out what was going on….It’s a real shame that this is the first communication I’ve had from them about this fiasco was in that stock e-mail..which basically said DONT CONTACT US.. yet they’ve known for over a year / I’ve known / suspicions have been in the public affiliate forums for about 6 months.

    That would have made it a bit more respectful and forgiveable as a pose to just carrying on sucking money out of unsuspecting affiliates.

    It’s pretty ridiculous really, this is one of the disadvantages of affiliate marketing not being that much of an established area of commerce. I have no doubt that these people would be swiftly being banned from being directors, and would be be getting de-manned in a prison somewhere if they were operated in a more high profile area of commerce…I’ll be following this story to see if any progress is made…

  19. Dishonest networks damage your brand as well as have a propensity to drive poor traffic.

    Advertisers who work with the new company will be looked on with suspicion and get less traffic. Would you trust people who partner with conmen? If I was an advertiser I would not work with them.

    Further more having lost the trust of the publishing world they will be desperate for traffic and the likelihood is drive poor traffic to your offers and you will get a bad return on your investment.

    Who are kinetic social advertisers? Can we name and shame them? What are the alternative networks that they can be found on?

  20. so first copeac, then them, never blue sold, what will be next? any news about cx?

  21. If you look at the bigger picture, then who of the participants can claim that they make an honest living? I’m not saying people in the industry don’t work hard. I’m saying that majority of what occurs in CPA and similar industries is hard to justify in terms of “we help customers to…”. It’s full of products that trick people into providing leads, and spammy sites becoming indirect affiliates because the merchant would never accept them directly.

    If you were with Epic because it was easier to make more money, then caveat emptor.

    1. Rob, that is a very, very small of the performance marketing industry. Most of hte industry still is connecting consumers to real products they are interested in. A vast majority of the CPA industry is based on searches, content creation, SEO on products people wnat — not spamming tricks like Acai offers and other junk.

  22. This is like an epidemic! What is going on in the world of CPA? Azoogle only owed me $19 (thank goodness.) They didn’t have a great line up of campaigns anyway, so I gave them very little attention. How many affiliate networks have shut down this year? This is crazy!

  23. Im out $1,800 thanks to these guys. And after being months late with payment, they kept harassing me to turn the traffic back on (I ran the offers for 2 weeks only)

  24. Pace, I think you are being a tiny bit hypocritical. On one hand you claim to be exposing network fraud by Epic. But then when Sean makes serious accusations about another major network you shut him down.
    If this site has any integrity and if you want to perform any real journalism, isn’t it your duty to investigate credible claims of fraud?
    A little digging would show that Sean *could* have valuable inside knowledge and may be able to substantiate his allegations…..Or he might be simply trying to start a pissing match with his old business partner Kevin. Either way it seems that you ought to let Sean produce the goods if he has them. If not then he may have to do some explaining to Click Father’s legal team.

    1. “Sean” posted under several names, and is not “Sean.” He is a former network owner *cough* whose network went out of business also and owes people money.

  25. It all went south for Azoogle when they started competing directly with their affiliates on their most profitable niches. That was a sign that greed would destroy them.

  26. Hi pacelattin,

    Do you have any idea about mediatrust.com. they are not sending any payouts. evan our AM told us that they are in middle of “Business acquisition”. we are afraid that this is another EPIC issue.

    thanks
    allan

  27. Confirmed.. Media trust is pimping. They shouldn’t be using affiliate’s money to finance anything other than paying their affiliates. That is shady.

  28. Hey Richard,

    Do you think that mediatrust will still pay their affiliates? no one out there answering phone call nor emails

  29. this scam is quite frightening really, i heard through the grape-vine that they`re doing the same again but under a different name…….are they gaining that much out of it i ask myself, is it really worth it?

  30. Pace – thanks for bringing this issue more to light. I’m a former employee of Azoogle and they screwed many employees. Options had been exercised and now they tell us that the company has to be worth 160MM before our shares are worth anything. Employees are out tens of thousands. I was 5 times in the money when I exercised options. By the way, it is believed that back dating of options took place as well plus the dilution of shares before issuance – very underhanded move. Total mismanagement at multiple levels which started when management was changed in 2007. They are crooks and have many skeletons in their closet, many of which I won’t comment on in this forum. Arrogance, combined with managerial incompetence and down right thievery created this mess.

  31. I smelled a rat last october when they started making excuses why I wasn’t getting paid. About December I started to be a real pain in their side and started emailing the right people every day..

    Not much happened until January when my aff mgr asked me to hit for tax again this year. I said sure once I get paid the 15k you owe me for oct/nov of last year… told them I was already hitting it hard and making bank with some other companies and if they wanted my traffic back they would have to beat the payout AND pay me for last year first…

    They promised to up the payout and immediately wired the cash.. cause they smelled a huge sucker… I had made like 70k last tax season with them..

    Once I got the wire I stopped taking their calls.

  32. Pace, you are right on about the BK — BUT — if more than 3 pubs who are owed money get together, they can force an involuntary BK. This would allow the BK judge to see the fraudulent conveyance before time expires and potentially pull the social media assets back into the BK estate. http://bankruptcy.cooley.com/2012/05/articles/business-bankruptcy-issues/forced-into-bankruptcy-the-involuntary-bankruptcy-process/ disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and my advice ain’t worth shit.

  33. Guys,

    Take a look at Don Mathis on Linked In. His new profile description is a classic. Short of saying, ‘Please don’t look at me, I didn’t defraud anyone.’ it completely washes his hands of any Epic wrong doing. Let’s be clear, he was the CEO and the man calling the shots until he palmed it off on Brett Lofgren to clean up his crap. Charlie Nowaczek, his right hand guy and neighbour in Montclair is inept but just as guilty. And finally David Graff, the legal brains. Another Montclair resident, when not doing dodgy deals with scummy neutra scammers in lap dancing clubs Dave is the guy helping dodge the legal bullets. The only way to deal with this is to swamp these guys legally. If we let them off then they will simply build the same business with Kinetic. I may not have been in ‘Fight Club’ or FIDO (Don’s names for management meetings to hide them from Art Shaw) but I know what said.

    Regards,

    Gossip Girl

  34. If you want some proof that KinEpic is all the same thing then take a look at their backers. TA Associates claim on their investment page that they invested in Kinetic in 2005.

    http://www.ta.com/investments/port_detail.asp?sector=15&start=30

    So if Epic/Kinetic as they claim only emerged in 2010/2011 then someone is lying. What amuses me is that Don in his eagerness to assure everyone he’s a good guy (he even uses his military record to try and help ….. Love the sailor hat on LinkedIn Don) he still trips over his own lies. The question is how long before Brian and the guys at TA lose patience? Hope Don has hung onto the hat …… I hear there’s a Village People revival on the way.

    On a brighter note at least Charlie will be able to add some value to the business, for the first time since he joined, if they release a version of YMCA.

    Look out for my next installment coming soon.

    Lots of love,

    Gossip Girl

  35. I am interested in learning more of Epic’s demise. Call me.
    Mark D. Schwartz, Esquire. 610 525-5534

  36. Is Don using the army pictures as his disguise? He must think he is fooling us all or we are a bunch of idiots…

  37. Here’s another navy picture of Don on twitter @kineticdhm. We should all send him person notes about the BS he’s pulling.

  38. Well – lot of us took the 50% pay-off deal to settle with ePicDirect. Not surprisingly they are late with their First 1% disbursement which was due September 15. Geez-Louise.

  39. Well how about these apples – Just got a check today for about 1% of what I agreed on. It did not say disbursemnet on check but I will assume this is what it is for. Will keep everyone inform if next month disbursemnt check from ePic Media Group is issued as well.

  40. Dear Pace,I liked what you said about basically telling them to go screw-off, and not to even bother contacting them because so many other people are owed money.Continue this kind of articles because they are very good and useful, congratulations.

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