Normally when federal agents kick your doors down and take close to $500,000 — any normal person would feel disdain for the federal law enforcement machine.
But not Brian and Edward Krassenstein.
In fact, Brian just helped bundle between $12K and $15K for fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s Gofundme account for legal fees. And Brian, along with his brother spend their time defending McCabe and Comey on Twitter and railing against Trump.
The brothers loathe Trump.
Yet it was Comey’s and McCabe’s and Obama’s federal bureaucracy that took the Krassensteins’ alleged ‘Ponzi’ schemes down.
To date, the Krassensteins have not been indicted or charged with any crimes. Instead they have become the liberal patron saints of social media, the poster boys for the #Resistance. But why would any sane suspect defend the federal infrastructure that is investigating them? Or who took their cash? And then raise money for the likes of McCabe? Or go to war on Twitter for the FBI and Comey?
The appearance of potential quid pro quo here is screaming like a neon Vegas billboard.
After Homeland Security agents raided the Krassenstein homes in 2016, it would have been McCabe, the FBI’s patron saint of the #Resistance — along with Comey — who had the juice to open or not open a criminal investigation into the Kressensteins or anyone else. See Hillary Clinton.
Homeland Security alleged ‘reasonable cause’ to believe the Krassensteins illegally hawked investment scams.
The FBI and Justice Department did not open a criminal case. Yet they open and plead out dozens of similar cases where lower amounts of money and assets are involved.
Why did the Kressensteins avoid criminal prosecution?
The feds did file a civil forfeiture case on the brothers but again, they received what is essentially a free pass from the FBI.
The Daily Beast detailed the fed’s case against the brothers here::
In late 2016, federal agents showed up at the Fort Myers, Florida, homes of brothers Brian and Edward Krassenstein, seizing computers and financial records, and hauling off “at least 20 to 30 bundles of stuff.”
At the time, the story was just a notable blip on local media’s crime blotter. But in the two years since, the Krassensteins have become more than a pair of local businessmen. They’re now prominent members of the online anti-Trump “resistance.”
According to the feds, the brothers also, until recently, ran websites that propped up fraudulent online financial scams. Law enforcement officials last year seized nearly half a million dollars from the brothers, money that prosecutors say was derived from wire fraud. The Krassensteins, who have not been charged with any crimes, maintain that they did nothing wrong or illegal.
The brothers remain extremely popular in corners of the anti-Trump left, having parlayed their vehement, often conspiratorial opposition to the president into social-media fame, with well over a million followers between them. They also run the standalone news websites Independent Reporter and Hill Reporter where, like Twitter, their brand of #Resistance—a label that they eschew, but which aptly fits their frequent calls for the impeachment and prosecution of the president—has galvanized Trump critics.
But it has also drawn the scrutiny and criticism of progressive activists who see the Krassensteins as opportunists distracting from a more productive message. While others have been accused of using the anti-Trump “resistance” to line their own pockets, the Krassensteins have a documented history of involvement with shady internet get-rich-quick schemes—a history that one federal financial investigator had reason to believe amounted to a criminal conspiracy.
Long before they took up the #Resistance mantle, the Krassensteins began hawking dubious investment advice—way back in 2003—on a pair of internet forums, selling ads to online money-making operations that included a number of apparent scams, including some run by people later convicted on charges ranging from fraud to capital murder.
According to prosecutors, the services the Krassensteins promoted on their websites duped thousands of “investors” into funding Ponzi scheme-type scams and even resulted in some downloading a virus that emptied their accounts on an anonymous online-payment platform used by the Krassensteins themselves, before it was shut down as part of a major federal money-laundering investigation.
The case received some national coverage after the Krassensteins’ home was raided, but the full extent of the case against them, and the details of their controversial business ventures, has not been previously reported.
The Krassensteins insist that they were victims of the ordeal. They claim they had no knowledge of the illegal activities of the companies to which they sold ads and that their right to sell such ads is protected by both the First Amendment and a federal law removing legal liability from online publishers. Their investment advisory sites, they say, were no different from ad platforms hosted by Google and other online advertising giants. In fact, they insist they were more consumer-friendly because, they say, they helped people avoid scams.
“The myth out there that ‘we promoted financial scams’ is false. We did not ‘promote’ anything,” Ed Krassenstein wrote in an email. “Our website was filled with warnings and notices about sending money to any website which anyone saw advertised on … The entire purpose… was to help people find out which online business opportunities were legitimate and which were not.”
Federal prosecutors did not see it that way. In a civil asset forfeiture complaint filed last August, Homeland Security Special Agent Michael Adams wrote that the brothers were paid huge sums by online scammers engaged in illegal activities.
“There is reasonable cause,” the threshold of proof for federal asset forfeiture claims, “to believe that the Krassensteins would have known that these funds were criminally derived,” Adams claimed. “There is also reasonable cause to believe that… Brian and Edward Krassenstein have conspired to commit wire fraud.”
Adams’ investigation focused on two sites owned and operated by the brothers: TalkGold.com and MoneyMakerGroup.com. Both sites promoted schemes called high-yield investment programs (HYIP), which the Securities and Exchange Commission describes as “unregistered investments typically run by unlicensed individuals—and they are often frauds.”
HYIPs, Adams wrote in his complaint, “are typically operated as online Ponzi schemes, and are by nature fraudulent.“ They “often pay out apparent ‘returns’ or ‘dividends’ during the early stages of the scheme in order to create the appearance of legitimacy,” he wrote. His complaint identified five apparently fraudulent HYIPs advertised or promoted on the Krassensteins’ websites, but said those five only scratched the surface.
The brothers maintain that their political advocacy is genuine, not simply their latest effort to capitalize on a potent internet trend. But they continue to say the same about their forays into HYIPs, multi-level marketing programs, and similar fraud-prone financial practices.
Adams, the DHS investigator, saw potentially illegal financial activity, but the brothers were never charged, let alone convicted, meaning no one has proved that anything they did was criminal. But that benefit of the doubt is not a courtesy the Krassensteins have extended to their political adversaries.
“BREAKING,” Ed Krassenstein tweeted last month. “President Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen just invoked his Fifth Amendment right, basically admitting that he’s a criminal.”