WIIM) studios. They've recently released a new version of an old horror flick that could have audiences fleeing for the exits.
Just about a year ago, the company announced an "update" on "progress" at its Gallo de Oro property, as if its interest in the property had been known to the public for some time. In reality, it was the first press release the company had ever issued, although WIIM had acquired the mining concession in March 2012.
On April Fool's Day 2014, Stock Mister launched the first ever promotion of WIIM, touting the Gallo de Oro's wonders as big news. But fans of hopeless junior miners know that a little less than three years ago, the same Rooster was pumped vigorously and expensively as an asset of Crowne Ventures, Inc. (CRWV). That shell has since become Grand Capital Ventures, Inc. (GRCV).
The CRWV pump was entrusted to most of what were to become known as the Awesome Penny Stock affiliate sites. After a rousing start, the promotion continued sporadically for more than a month, but not surprisingly, failed to result in good outcomes for the majority of traders who played it.
Mexico World Investments was formed in California by Dane Peterson. It seems to have been called World Investments of Mexico (WIM) as well; a company by that name was only incorporated by him in Nevada in early 2012. A native Californian, Peterson learned about mining from his father John. John was so passionate about the yellow metal that after he retired from teaching high school, he moved with his wife to wilderness land in the foothills of the Sierras in California gold country. For more than 20 years he and Dane spent holidays prospecting in Mexico, where John eventually obtained fifty year leases on some mining concessions in the state of Nayarit. When John died in 2010 at the age of 82, Dane inherited the concessions.
|The Gallo de Oro property in Nayarit, Mexico|
In a Crowne Ventures press release from 23 August 2011, Dane Peterson said, "The Gallo de Oro was my late father's dream for the perfect mining concession. His field analysis led to the acquisition. Both of us felt that this claim would develop into an outstanding gold producer, and recent events lead me to believe we have made a wise choice." That statement is not borne out by the available facts. The only professional exploration program conducted on the property was done by Stellar Metals Inc., a now-defunct Canadian company that traded in the U.S., in 1996. It was an SEC registrant, but made is last filing in 2000, before Edgar was comprehensive. As a result, its filings are not available online, but one researcher had access to the company's 20-F annual report for 1997, in which the terms and the results of the exploration program are described.
The Company entered into the WIM Agreement dated July 19, 1996 with WIM to acquire the Mexican Property. The Mexican Property consists of four mining claims comprising approximately 1500 hectares located in western Mexico known as the Dolorosa, La Laguna I and II, Monterrey and Aguilla de Oro and the four enhancements thereto known as Mi Hijo, Mi Hija, Dos Esposas and Tres Niños comprising approximately an additional 1300 hectares. The WIM Agreement calls for an immediate cash payment of US$30,000 and provides for a net profits interest of 10% to be shared between the underlying owners (2%) and WIM (8%).There was an option to renew, but it was never exercised. Though a second drilling program was planned for 1997, Stellar decided not to proceed with it. As we shall see going forward, Stellar's findings did not come close to Peterson's later extravagant claims concerning the value of the properties.
The first pump
In 2011, junior miners were the stars of the penny arena. With the price of gold hitting new historic highs, gold stocks were the pot stocks of the day. Worthless claims were touted as multi-million dollar properties; claims that were barely economically feasible, as billion dollar properties. On 24 August, just as the CRWV pump was getting underway, FINRA issued an investor alert similar to the one it recently posted about marijuana stocks.
The promo was kicked off by an email blast from Penny Stock Alley on 22 August 2011. In the following days, Titan Stocks, Free Investment Report, Killer Penny Stocks, Gladiator Stocks, Explicit Penny Picks, Ox of Wall Street, Free Penny Alerts, Victory Stocks and more joined in the fun, along with a few wannabes like Darth/Trader/Stock Psycho who said they weren't compensated. The compensated sites were run by Eric Van Nguyen, A.J. Thompson, and Kenneth Oxsalida. Some were operated by Thompson himself; the rest were loosely organized under Thompson's umbrella company, OTC Solutions. The way they worked is to some extent explained in the SEC's complaint filed in connection with its 2012 Recycle Tech suit, in which Thompson and others were named.
By mid-2012, all of these pump sites (with the exception of Darth Trader/Stock Psycho) had been taken over by John Babikian's Awesome Penny Stocks. Babs himself had worked the Recyle Tech pump, which went down in early 2010. It was perhaps his first use of the APS website, and the amount he was paid --a mere $5000 Canadian, according to his disclaimer--suggests that he was considered a very junior partner. It isn't known exactly when all that changed, and Babikian became the leader, eventually purchasing the sites owned by Thompson, Nguyen, Jay Fung, and others. In any case, it happened after the CRWV promotion, in which Babs did not participate.
Most of the promoters disclosed payment of $1 million for a one month "profile" of CRWV. Needless to say, that number didn't represent a total budget of $10 million or so. Since the matter was never litigated, we have no idea who got how much. Titan Stocks--owned by Nguyen--claimed it was paid $425,000, which may have been his take for bringing his sites to the party.
|Chad Smanjak, left|
He was still on the loose at the time of the CWRV promo, and his participation in it makes sense. There's a real--and apparently unsavory--Chantrea Trading in South Africa; perhaps Smanjak simply decided to use a familiar name for his own Panamanian entity. The Panamanian Chantrea was registered on 26 July 2011, apparently for the purpose of financing the pump and holding stock that Smanjak would sell into it. It was active into 2012, but has since been dissolved, probably in connection with Smajak's plea deal.
As almost always, the promo was coincident with a stream of breathless press releases from the company, replete with enthusiastic statements made by Dane Peterson. The first of these, issued on 22 August, announced that shares authorized had been cut in half, and a new website launched, "in keeping with the Company's strategic plans and goals to become a major gold producer." The next introduced the Gallo de Oro property and its owner, Peterson, explaining that the company and Peterson had signed a letter of intent with Crowne. Two days later, on the 25th, even better news hit: a grab sample had "resulted in values up to 8.3 oz. of gold/ton." That number was ridiculous, and the content of the PR generally incoherent, but the only thing players noticed was a headline featuring an estimated value for the claims of $3 billion.
|CRWV chart, 19 August to 6 October 2011|
It was a clumsy effort. It read like a PR, but was supposedly signed by a real Bloomberg reporter, and was posted on a site merely pretending to be Bloomberg's. It was brief, intended only to inform the naive that Yamana had decided to purchase Crowne for $4.50 a share. The number was so over the top--CRWV was trading at $0.11--that all but a few extremely gullible players declined to believe the acquisition story was true. And sure enough, the next day Peterson put out a new PR of his own, telling shareholders there was no buyout. Oddly for a self-proclaimed industry professional, he called the would-be suitor "Yumana Gold." The stock closed at $0.068.
Pumpsanddumps.com hadn't been snoozing while all this was going on. We picked up on the promo by 28 August, pointing out that:
CRWV is making the preposterous claim that it holds 9.5 million tons of ore sampling as high as 8.3 oz of gold per ton of ore. To understand how ridiculous this claim is, consider that high grade ore by the world's biggest producers is measured in grams per ton, not ounces. The Hemlo gold find in Northern Ontario, one of the most important North American gold finds ever, contained ore at 7-8 grams of gold per ton, or about .25-.3 oz per ton of ore. So CRWV is trying to have you believe that its project contains 35 times more gold than one of the biggest gold producing regions ever!We followed with an update on the fake Yamana press release, and a third, about the Gallo de Oro property, on 31 August.
By then, the pump was over, at least in terms of profitability for those who played it, though email alerts were sent out for several more weeks. Announcements from the company continued, each more absurd than the last. Evidently moving at the speed of light, Peterson acquired more properties (in reality already owned by his company WIM), sent ore off to a smelter located at an improbable distance from the mining site, and in a thundering finale reported that his $3 billion estimate "now show[s] as much as 20 billion in USD," and that the properties were so rich they'd "allow for up to 30 years of production." Nobody with good sense believed a word of it, and the stock drifted off toward oblivion.
The ABOT promotion
In a strange coda to the story of the CRWV pump, some of Peterson's claims temporarily migrated to another Pink. On 16 December 2011, ABOT Mining Company (ABOT) announced that it had struck an agreement with Rising Star S.A. de C.V., a Mexican corporation, to acquire a 50% equity interest in the Aztlan 8B Project in Nayarit.
Aztlan 8B was one of the properties Peterson had been trying to sell in 2007. He'd never specifically mentioned it, or its sister property Aztlan 8A, in his CRWV press releases. Rising Star, curiously enough, had supposedly been acquired by CRWV before Peterson entered the picture. That was something else left unexplained during and after the CRWV promotion. On 20 May 2011, the company filed its first annual report, for the period ended 31 December 2010, with OTCMarkets. It subsequently hid that filing on its Inactive page, and filed another, for the same period, on 7 August 2011. Only in the second does CRWV say that:
In October of 2009 the Company acquired Rising Star in [sic], this subsidiary has been prospecting for gold and rare earth minerals in the State of Nayarit, Mexico, working with lease holder to determine reserves and viability of larger scale mining. The Company invested in certain mobile crushing equipment to complete these activities.Nowhere do we learn what Rising Star cost, or who the previous owner was. But somehow, by mid-December 2011, Rising Star had acquired at least one of Peterson's Aztlan properties and sold it to ABOT.
Peterson's involvement with public companies actually began with One World Ventures, Inc. (OWVI). In January 2011, OWVI's CEO Stephen Prior resigned, and was replaced by Ronald Lindsay, the COO. Lindsay decided to dump part of the company's old (and unsuccessful) forex business, and get into mining. Lindsay explained that since the price of gold was on the rise, it had entered into an agreement to acquire certain gold and silver mining asset rights in Mexico. Not coincidentally, it welcomed Peterson to the board, adding that "Dane has substantial experience mining in the contracted for areas and will be the key leader of our mining interests immediately. Expect more detail of the valuations of this OWVI addition in future announcements."
One World Ventures was a sleazy diluter that failed to accomplish anything at all. When last heard from in June 2012, Lindsay was still CEO. It's now a Pink No Info company whose corporate status has been revoked in Nevada.
Clearly Lindsay intended to make Peterson's Mexican mining claims OWVI's chief business, but for reasons never offered, the plan changed. It was decided that the claims would instead be popped into another public company, Crown Ventures. Conveniently, CRWV was controlled by Lindsay and a Chinese woman named Xiao Yu Hou. Yu Hou had a business in China that had failed to energize CRWV, and she was on her way out. Peterson replaced her as CEO and president on 24 August 2011.
Though CRWV said it had purchased Rising Star in 2009, there's no supporting evidence. As noted, in the company's initial annual report for fiscal 2010--there are no earlier reports--it wasn't mentioned. It made its first appearance in the filing for the same period made on 7 August 2011. Surely by that time Peterson had already been chosen by Lindsay as the company's new CEO. So… was Rising Star originally owned by Peterson, or was it a fictional company? It doesn't turn up in any records for Mexican miners.
Whatever the origins of Rising Star, it was used as a vehicle for the conveyance of Aztlan 8B to ABOT. That was announced on 16 December 2011, and a promotion began the very same day. Even more interestingly, the promoters used were the same ones who'd pumped CRWV only a few months earlier: Titan Stocks, Monsterstox (another Nguyen site), Stock Pick Trading, Killer Penny Stocks, Explicit Penny Picks, Ox of Wall Street, Penny Stock Alley, Free Investment Report, Gladiator Stocks, and a few others.
This time, the touts disclosed payment of $1.6 million--presumably the total budget--from Bahadur Investments Inc. Was Chad Smanjak once again the paymaster? Bahadur, like Chantrea, was a Panamanian nominee company. Like Chantrea, it's been dissolved. It seems entirely possible that Bahadur was another of Smanjak's offshore conduits for stock and cash.
|ABOT chart, 28 November to 23 January 2011|
The promotion had mixed results. Before it began on 16 December, ABOT was trading on very low volume. On the 15th, the stock traded 1.2 million shares; the next day, 161 million. As with CRWV, the active part of the promo didn't last long. Nor was it intended to: the promoters had been hired for only a week's work. By early January, stock price and volume had subsided.
The WIIM promo
On 13 January 2012, CWRV put out a press release announcing the resumption of mining operations after the "traditionally-long holiday season in Mexico." That was a bit of a stretch: the company hadn't been heard from since 31 October. After one more fluff PR, issued on 19 January, it again fell silent. The next announcement, from 20 December 2012, was of a name and ticker change to Grand Capital Ventures, Inc. (GRCV). Peterson had left, and William White was appointed CEO and president in early March 2013.
What is now Mining Minerals of Mexico was incorporated in Nevada in 1999 as International Sports Marketing Group. It eventually went public on the Pink Sheets as Cal Alta Auto Glass, Inc. (CAAG), and was run by one Frank Aiello. Initially, the company was an SEC reporter, but it terminated registration in June 2011.
By 31 March 2012, Peterson had taken over as 83 percent owner, with 50 million of the company's 60 million shares outstanding. (No, that doesn't compute, but it's what the filing says.) The sole officer and director was not Peterson, but Wayne Bailey, an OTC veteran who also heads Cardio Infrared Technologies, Inc. (CDOI). Company counsel was San Diego's Andrew Coldicutt of the notorious Coldicutt family of securities laws violators.
Needless to say, the new company was said to be in the gold mining business, with the Gallo de Oro as its flagship property. It was not explained how that asset had been transferred from CRWV to CAAG, but it's possible that Peterson had done nothing wrong. As far as can be known, he was always the owner of the concession; CRWV had not actually purchased it from him. On 18 May 2012, Cal Auto changed its name to Minning Minerals of Mexico, and its ticker to WIIM. A few days later, it corrected its misspelling of "mining."
By the end of June, Peterson had become President and sole director of the company. Bailey was apparently gone. Peterson also replaced Coldicutt with Thomas Russell, which might be considered an apples to apples exchange. The mining assets were now valued at $113,747, their cost basis. A far cry from the $20 billion touted in 2011, but this time no "forward looking statements" were involved. Throughout 2013, WIIM offered a few unexciting press releases that attracted no attention.
On 1 April 2014, a new pump began, kicked off by Stock Mister. Stock Mister had been in on the ABOT promo in a small way; he disclosed a $10,000 cash payment from an unidentified third party for his work. He's been playing a more prominent role in the current campaign. Initially, he said he'd received an $18,000 payment from an entity called Speak Easy Media, LLC for a one day marketing program. Speak Easy is a Delaware company formed on 29 January 2014.
|Speak Easy's Delaware incorporation data|
The promo continued off and on through April, and after a brief siesta, resumed in late May, with the most recent email alerts coming from Small Cap Universe and, once again, Stock Mister. By now, Stock Mister says he's received an additional $75,000 on top of his initial payment, all provided by Speak Easy. Small Cap Universe didn't do as well, getting only $6,000 for its own one day profile.
|MP3A WIIM promo|
The Roberts "report," though long, is thin on content relevant to WIIM itself. That's because this time round, no one is supplying handy press releases that can be turned into headlines with multiple exclamation points. The most recent PR was issued on 10 July 2013, and announced the appointment of geologist Tiburcio Rubio as a director. The company's website, though attractive, offers little in the way of hard information. So Roberts dedicated most of his report to a lengthy and dramatic discussion of how gold will be everyone's savior because "Russia and China are manipulating the geopolitical atmosphere to cause havoc in the US."
He urged investors to act today! on WIIM, so they can watch their shares "soar an incredible 3,415%." Why 3,415 percent? Who knows? But it sounds good.
|WIIM chart, 31 March to 30 May|
According to WIIM's most recent disclosure statement, for the period ended 31 March, there are a little more than 108 million shares outstanding. Peterson still owns 50 million shares of common, but that now represents only 46 percent of the class. Under "list of securities offering[s] and shares issued for services for the past two years," Peterson put: "none." How does that work? How, then, did the shares outstanding increase from 60 million to 108 million? There's been no mention of any convertible debt in WIIM's OTCMarkets reports. Only one beneficial owner apart from Peterson and the company secretary Mary Ann Baron is named. That is Anvil International Inc., a Belize company controlled by a Steven Thompson. His stake at the end of March was 4.2 percent. Thompson has been an investor since Peterson took over the CAAG shell.
So who commissioned the promotion? It must, as always, have been one or more people with large positions they wanted to dump. Perhaps Thompson of Anvil was among them; we won't know until the company's next financial report appears. Or the sellers could have been recipients of the unexplained stock issuances over the past two years. All that can really be said is that Chad Smanjak isn't involved, because he's been out of commission since his arrest.
These days, Dane Peterson evidently feels he was a victim of of the "unscrupulous promoters" who ran the CRWV promotion back in 2011, promising funding for exploration and mining operations that never materialized. While it's possible he was unaware of the damage Smanjak and his associates could do when he agreed to participate, participate he did. He apparently had no problem putting his name to a series of preposterous press releases, culminating with the absurd estimate of his properties' value in excess of $20 billion. It seems he was also willing to pretend to sell Aztlan 8B to ABOT, where it was used as the centerpiece of another promotion.
What's happening now is a mystery. WIIM still appears to have problems finding funding; not a great deal of work has been done. It would be interesting to know if Peterson, desperate for money, has once again fallen for promoters' promises of quick and easy cash. The fact that he isn't supplying supporting press releases, however, suggests that this time he's not playing as active a role in the pump. One thing is certain, though: with no serious exploration done to date, the Gallo de Oro claim remains just one of hundreds of unproved and insignificant Mexican mining properties.