FROM ANDREW DRUMMOND,
BANGKOK, AUGUST 30 2010
An American internet porn king who brought to the world such websites as ‘ThaiSluts’ and ‘Thailadyf*cking’ has won approval from the Thai government to get tax concessions for his new internet business in Pattaya.
After first having his business blessed by Buddhist monks and opened by the Mayor of Pattaya Ittiphol Khunpluemm, Michael Strouse, 42, from Minneapolis, has now been granted tax concessions by Thailand’s Board of Investment.
Ironically Michael Strouse is also known in the US porn industry as ‘The Mayor’. But the only city he has been Mayor of is Porncity.net. He was also the boss of such sites as ‘Mayorsmoney’ and Geektech – sites specifically set up to cash in on porn and linked to hundreds of internet sex sites.
At its peak he boasted ‘Porncity’ was getting up to 10 million hits a day worldwide and it was fast making him a millionaire.
His young Thai wife even became an internet porn star and can still be seen today on her website purring: ‘I will do anything for you….anything.”
When I contacted Michael Strouse he denied having anything to do with the porn industry and said that was all in the past and he was glad to be rid of it. “But it was all legal”.
He said it was unfortunate that a former member of staff had been spreading malicious rumours about him and that he was taking out a prosecution in Pattaya.
I had in fact not been contacted by a former member of staff, but instead two weeks ago by some members amongst his current Thai staff at the offices of Final Wave in Pattaya. who no doubt would face instant dismissal if identified.
“ There are very bad pictures of Thai lady, Thai man. Thai staff are not told what their work is used for. This has made us very angry. Please do not go to Pattaya Police. They will do nothing. Go to the BOI or government.” That essentially is a summary of the second message I received and it added that Thai staff were working on mySql and php programming.
So what is his company ‘Final Wave Consulting Ltd.’ doing or making that it should find such favour with the Thai government? They just told the BOI they are making software.
Well the ‘Pattaya Times’ were told: “The parent company, Final Wave, is mainly involved in exporting all kinds of motor tires to America. However due to the revolutionizing nature of modern technology, the company has decided to offer solutions to meet this change. As such, they have founded a standard consulting company to offer mobile advice via the internet and sell a product that offers a virtual private network (VPN) to users for added internet security.
“Michael Strouse said Final Wave Consulting Co., Ltd. would donate 50% of its profits each month to local underprivileged children through the Optimist International Club of Thailand”.
Actually there is no parent company of Final Wave Consulting and therefore no tyres going to America, something Strouse has now conceded.
Meanwhile the Pattaya People reported on video: ‘The new company is located on Pratamnak Soi 3, and their products include ProXPN’
Both reports were glowing.
Excellence and Integrity + community service
And this is how Strouse describes his company and there is a similar entry in the membership book of the American Chamber of Commerce.
“Final Wave was founded with one purpose. Excellence and integrity above all else. We provide our staff a high level of compensation in the local market including benefits packages that rival western companies. We have selected an elite team of specialists from all over the globe as well as here in Thailand to lead a young and highly skilled group of Thai employees. We believe in building client loyalty by building staff loyalty.
“In addition to providing a state of the art workplace utilizing the latest technology paired with creature comforts such as free food, free coffee, employee reward programs and incentives, we also encourage staff to take paid time off to do community service.
“Currently Final Wave is sponsoring two under privileged children through school and are working with local charity groups to properly spend a large portion of our profits on improving lives of local underprivileged children through long term education and public awareness”
So far we have glowing newspaper and television reports, integrity, excellence, and 50 % of profits going to charity. Is this all too good to be true? When I asked a member of staff if he had done community service he replied: “What’s that?”
Strouse is dedicated to his charity work. The question is, has the leopard really changed its spots? Or has smooth talking Michael Strouse now merely re-invented himself in Thailand? - a common enough trait among foreigners in Pattaya? After all, Strouse seems to have misplaced reasons for being here in the first place.
In 2005 in an interview with ‘Ambush’ – a ‘Who’s Who of who is behind the scenes in adult online’ Michael Strouse was asked:
“How did you enjoy your mini retirement? What made you come out of it?”
‘How cool cheap Thai woman and strong American dollars are?’
He answered: “Which one? The one where I went to FL (Florida) and left my brother running the biz or the one where I went to Thailand and found out how cool cheap women and strong American dollars are.”
The dollar has since dropped of course. But to put things in perpsective Strouse did say later he also liked Thailand for its culture.
Why do you like Thailand so much? Is it the cheap young hookers?Answer: “Yep that pretty much sums it up Well that, and the fact that everything seems so cheap it’s almost free and the food is amazing, the culture is extremely interesting and there is about 1000 years more history and culture than home Also met my wife there, love diving there and just hangin out! Wanna see a pic of the wife ?”
That interview was in 2005 when he was perhaps a younger brasher man, so of course he could have changed his attitude completely since then.
F****D- UP BEYOND ALL RECOGNITION!
But in 2007 his name came up again this time as the sponsor of a ‘Gathering’ for adult webmasters in Patong Beach, Phuket, through his company Mayorsmoney. Click and you get the drift.
Mayorsmoney.com provided the welcome packs for the arriving webmasters, and webmistresses, who were also promised that Thai porn star Kat Young would be on hand to provide massages.
In any event Kat Young did not provide massages, recalled Strouse, as she was on his arm as his wife. They were married for five years he said, and in all that time, she never gave him a massage. They have since divorced and Strouse had taken on a younger Thai wife and he now has a son as the Pattaya Times reports here.
“Kat is now an American citizen,” he said, and five years on apparently still claiming she is 19 on her her site and pursuing the career he launched her into.
Meanwhile Adult Webmasters went on safari in Phuket, dined at the resorts top restaurants, Baan Rim Paa, Da Maurizio and Strouse apparently led the invasion of Soi Bangla, Patpong, the town’s street of beer bars, a-go-gos, and lady boy bars.
The whole event was reported in hundreds of pictures currently on the web on the site of FUBAR, which is where Adult Webmasters report their fun events. Kat Young however did not seem to feature.
FUBAR incidentally stands for ‘F*cked Up Beyond All Recognition’. The last pictures show Strouse and colleagues returning home in a tuk tuk.
Anyway Michael Strouse can hardly be singled out for taking part, if indeed he did, in an industry which the Thai government turns a blind eye to and something which is a weekly or daily activity for perhaps thousands of tourists and expats. It’s the recurring adult webmaster bit that should be of concern to them.
Are they still going to see things like this on his websites?
“Feel the oriental passion together with these really sexy and absolutely smutty asian babes – watch these narrow eyed beauties gag!”
The server administrator is firstname.lastname@example.org. Staff at Final Wave confirmed sotprod is one of their domains.
When I questioned Mr. Strouse about this he said: “Well yes. I still have those sites. But I have kept Porncity because the man who bought them off me has not paid the money yet. I have definitely sold off mayorsmoney.”
Within minutes of our conversation www.sotprod.com came off the net. But if you google sotprod.com you still get links to Kat Young at only17.com (Is Kat Young truly getting younger?) , juggy girls, and drunksluts.
After speaking with Michael Strouse another anyonymous email came in from Final Wave. “The foreigners are now all very serious and not talking to us. There is a lot of activity upstairs.”
At Final Wave’s offices the Thai staff work on the third floor and are not allowed access to the fourth floor where the foreigners work. Not all Thai staff are kept busy all the time but they are needed to support the application for five to six foreigners working upstairs.
The screen grabs showed that Final Wave Consultation Co. Ltd has set up the following sites, among others; chatmakescash, websecretcrush, mushroomcash, blue advertisements, brytalkthai, hottedate.com, chatwithchicks, all on an ISP in Lorian, Ohio.
So has Strouse got out of the sex business? No, indeed, he has merely changed some of his products because there is so much free porn on the internet and thus fewer buyers. His method of making money remains pretty the same - internet billing!
Click here for instance (http://cams.websecretcrush.com/) This is supposed to be a dating and chat site and you will find that your chat companions tend to come already without any panties. And they certainly do not come for free.
The site claims to make 20,000 successful introductions a month. I cannot see why though. A web report simply states: ‘ Trustworthiness, vendor reliability, privacy and child safety of this site is very poor’.
Chatmakescash is a classic. It works using affiliate websites all over the net. This affiliate program gets affiliates, typically Filipinos, to ‘chat’ online with US people that they find in online chat rooms such as Facebook. This is how it was explained to me.
“After chatting online, they are then invited to continue this chat by SMS text messaging, by clicking on a link that the affiliate sends to them.
“That link is to a website (www.mobiledatechannel.com) where the target enters their cell phone number, receives a confirmation PIN code, and enters this code back onto the website to initiate the chat by SMS. The scam is the targets are not told that there is a charge per sms chat text message, between $1 and $2. The company will try and deny this. But look at it logically.
Of course, if it is free there is no point in marketing it. The product is widely reported to be very sound, if you want a highly secure VPN .
But a poster on a scam website wrote: “Poking round the newsgroups a bit indicates that “Proxpn” is little more than a scam. Not only do they record your traffic, but they charge you for the privilege of ripping you off. Additionally there are problems with the site’s security certificate. All in all, I’d avoid this like the plague.” It seems the free version is not good enough to download videos but you don’t hear that till later.
At Final Wave, Pattaya, the ProVPN operation is run by a Briton called Greg Gaskell and an American Phil McClendon who says at high school he was named as the person who was probably most liable to make an impact on the world . On the last link you can read his sales patter.
Oh No not Schoolgirls R US too!!
Greg Gaskell is actually a partner in Final Wave. Now its running to more than coincidence that Gaskell has also an extensive history in the porn trade although he too says he is no longer in the business. He runs or admits ran MissionDollars.com the money engine driven by, wait for it, Asianperverts and Kathoeys.com, . He still has a friend who runs Lulusexbomb.com, and Thainee.com featuring a girl billed as the smallest Asian porn star. You’ll need something like ProVPN to see more though, oh and a credit card. I think we get the picture here. A Briton Greg Gaskell of Reedly Drive, Worsley, Manchester, Lancs was also sued in the Irish Courts by Toys R Us and was ordered to hand overthe name of his website ‘Schoolgirlsrus’.
Complaints also went up on the net about Gaskell from affiliates who should be sharing in his booty. I understand they have now been solved.
To his last complainant on the site in July, here we go again, ‘F*ckedReport.com’ he reported: “Anyone who knows me will know I’ve not been active here for a long time or being activity a part of running missiondollars or xxxoutsourcing.
“Anyone who is owed any money from MD, hit me up directly on ICQ:119936 to get your account settled”.
‘There’s no business like ho business’
Apparently he was trying to mediate through the website www.gfy.com, which stands for, yes you have probably guessed this by now, “Go F@%$K Yourself.com” and is ‘where the adult online community meet’. You can whistle along to their company song if you were born after 1950.
Its ‘There’s no business like ho business’. (Seriously I am not making this up)
Anyway no sooner does ‘MissionDollars’ go down than ‘Island Dollars’ goes up on the net filming girls out of Pattaya. So I guess Gaskell can make cash out of his VPN lines, if he only markets them here. The girls on island Cash look remarkably similar those whom an American called Tony Poer has been filming on Thailand eastern seaboard and on the Gaskell sites still cached on the net.
There is of course no suggestion whatsoever that either the Mayor of Pattaya or the Board of Investment know any of the above. And of course I cannot suggest the law is being broken, because if a criminal offence has been committed, where has it been committed? Its a bit like the Bangkok boiler rooms.
A Board of Investment spokesman however said: “A member of staff has been assigned to look into this matter.”
Finally, who is the ex-employee who is causing all the trouble at Final Wave? Two foreigners have left Final Wave in a hurry. One was a woman who was brought in to set up the dating sites including ‘websecretcrush’ who left, she said, to ‘get a life’.
The second was Simon Luttrell, 41, Final Wave’s Product Manager, whom I finally caught up with before the weekend. He is currently hiding out in a neighbouring country:
He said: “Strouse is a millionaire and I am not happy to deal with a millionaire on his terms in Pattaya. I left because I had ethical reasons and he lodged a complaint with the police suggesting I have cheated him. Its total nonsense. ”
“If I agree to pay you and drop all charges against you, will you stop going to the press and tell them you were mistaken?” - email Michael Strouse to Simon Luttrell
Later he said: “I have received an email from Strouse saying he will drop all charges and pay me the usual three months severance if I get the press off his back.” Then later again Strouse called the deal off putting a note up on his website saying he was being blackmailed. (Updated 02/092010 This has now been removed)
Simon Luttrell seems to have a better CV than Strouse. He graduated from University College London in 1986 with a Master’s degree in Microwaves & Modern Optics. He worked as a senior consultant for companies such as Marconi, Alcatel, British Telecom, Cable & Wireless and several others. In 1998, he established Fonedata - an SMS text messaging company which he later sold to Psion plc.
‘Peppered by an expat reporter with a plethora of inflammatory allegations’
The Final Wave website is now flashing with urgent news saying Strouse had been ‘greeted with an email from a local expat reporter who was armed with some facts of the director peppered with a plethora of factually inaccurate and in some cases extremely offensive and inflammatory allegations”. (Updated Sept 2 2010 This has now been deleted)
Well I have to say that is a lot better English than I have been reading on his websites, but needless to say there are no ill founded allegations in my emails, only questions seeking assurances. In fact even his Chicago lawyer Thoms Wallrich baulked at making such a suggestion.
He did however ask: “that you please disclose to me the nature and provider of information pertaining to Mr. Strouse and his business concerns so that we may determine our next course of action”.
There of course will be no sign of porn at the premises in Pattaya because the Thai staff are employed in writing databases, which can of course be used for anything. The evidence is out there in the ether but the clues are still there. My information provider is the very place Strouse abuses to make money. Its all up there on the internet. My sources, who pointed me in the right direction will remain confidential.
ขอขอบคุณสำหรับความกล้าหาญของเพื่อน IT ชาวไทยที่ให้เราได้นำเรื่องนี้มานำเสนอ
MIKE STROUSE ANSWERS BACK
While I think it is quite amusing that Michael Strouse has been given tax breaks by the Thai government and the twilight world of adult webmasters sounds hilarous (well for a short time) Strouse himself understandably feels he has not been accorded the proper respect as a businessman in Pattaya and has penned a reply below on his personal website (mikestrouse.com) not his company one. As he has laid on the victim bit terribly thick and portrayed the image of a reporter salivating while writing a story about him I have added my own comments and corrections. (Updated Sept 2 2010 He has now removed this from his private website)
It’s a first for me and quite frankly a little disturbing.
As many of you may know (if you know me or know how to google me) I used to be involved in some adult affiliate programs and early adult hosting. I was part of an industry that poineered social networking, on demand video, e commerce, and affiliate marketing. I learned a great deal which in today’s internet translates to a much more lucrative business in the mainstream internet. As many of you also know I was lucky enough to get out of the business before the real decline thanks to all the free content online now Now with my free time I’ve attempted many new ventures. Most of which failed (tire exporting, iphone importing, wii exporting, datings sites, even an anti acne product which I still believe is good i just don’t have the money or time to pursue it)
That’s certainly one way of putting pioneering social networking. In interviews on the web Mike Strouse has admitted that by far the most income came from not inventing Facebook, but ’stiffycash’ and ‘mayors money’ both sites delivering porn. I am not so much concerned about the porn they delivered but how they cashed in.
Onto the blackmail part.
I recently discovered some disturbing accounting anomalies from a former staff member. This person admitted they performed this act and offered to compensate partially. I declined their offer and took the next logical course of action. We went to the police.
What happened next sounds more like a movie than real life but unfortunately it’s very real. This person contacted me and offered to not speak with the press if i dropped all charges and settled with a severance package. I did not believe any reporter would believe someone with outstanding police investigations or failure to appear for several police summons. Boy was I wrong.
Boy is he wrong as an email at the end shows. This scenario is in any case unlikely as it was not ‘this person’ who contacted me but Thai staff at Final Wave Consulting Co. Ltd in Pattaya on August 15th long before I found this ‘former staff’ member. Because Michael Strouse has gone to the police does not mean there is any truth in his allegations. It could make a movie I guess though.
I get a call from 2 reporters. One was very nice and upon hearing that the source was wanted for questioning in connection with theft he understood that he was looking at being used as a tool in an extortion plot and gave some solid advice (thanks Drew Noyes) The other reporter on the other hand so excited by the prospect of a porn guy now operating a tech company in Thailand believed there must be a good story to run. I being rather naive about such things agreed to answer some questions in email. What I was presented with was beyond shocking. I was asked about my former wife and if she was used as a “feature” attraction providing massages at a porno show. (completely false) I was accused of lying and that I was never married. I, in fact, was married and my ex wife continues to live in America as an American citizen.
I have never ever called Michael Strouse. My calls to his office went unanswered. I contacted him by email. Drew Noyes is the publisher of the Pattaya Times newspaper not a reporter, but he does of course write occasionally.
I called Drew Noyes to try and get a number for Strouse because the phone at his company Final Wave was ringing out. Drew Noyes emphatically denied, and said nor does he believe, he was being used as part of a ‘blackmail plot’. (Thanks Drew Noyes)
I asked Strouse in an email if he attended an Adult Membership Gathering in Phuket where Kat Young, a Thai porn star was advertised (on the net) as being on hand to give massages. I did not know Kat Young was his wife as my emails clearly show. Why would I accuse him of lying about being married to her? He is totally making the bit up about the porno show. But hey! All conversations about his wife were in emails which of course we both have. I was surprised when he said that Kat Young was his wife. In fact I had to double check in an email to make sure I understood right. All those emails can be shown to any court Mr. Strouse likes. More to the point Michael Strouse is doing what I suspect he knows best, being very economical with the truth.
When I tried to explain to this reporter that our business in Thailand is in fact NOTHING to do with adult production, or sale. Our business is in fact stated clearly on our website and we have real clients (albiet not as many as I would like and were not rolling in money) I even went on to list Thai government officials that have and continue to regularly inspect our operations as part of our compliance with local immigration law, BOI status and in some cases we do work for local government offices.
Mr. Strouse explained what I already knew that he had BOI approval and had an in to the Mayor of Pattaya. He never listed Thai government officials, though he is welcome to. His website only went up last week and is sufficiently vague. His original one page website describes his company as an incubator and investor
It stated: “Final Wave does not publicly list any of the companies we’re involved with because we do not wish to be a unifying brand across a diverse portfolio of otherwise unrelated products and services. We are strictly a behind the scenes operation”. This of course attracted my interest.
He said he didn’t believe that I was telling the truth and that there is no way we could be making money. When he inquired about our SMS clients and our VPN clients he said “there is no way they are making money with that, it’s a “front”. He offered to send me his “proof” and I offered several times for him to come down to the office and see for himself. He has not sent the proof or accepted my offer of an open door inspection and free access to any and all staff.
I never offered to send any proof. I told him it was not necessary to go to his office as his Thai staff said there was little I would find (unless he gave me free access to his computers) He certainly never offered free access to all his staff. I did not use the word ‘front’ in any correspondence or conversation with him. Its a nice word though. The only calls were from him to me. I told him I did not believe he was making the real money from ProVpn. He can talk all he wants about his SMS business. But his SMS expert and Product Manager has left his company.
Some other wonderfully ignorant things he said: Isn’t dating sites and affiliate software the same as porn? Isn’t it all just a scam? Who on earth would pay for SMS? I don’t know where to begin with this. I am sitting here trying to disprove a negative, educate someone on how information technology, affiliate marketing, mobile and e-commerce works all the while he’s thinking “porn” and insulting my wife.
As I recorded the conversation this is somehat simplified. I asked Strouse wasn’t he doing exactly what he was doing before? He answered ‘Yes and No’. The stuff on his porn sites was similar to , I put to him for instance, what he was doing with the site ‘websecretcrush’. As in all his emails he was evasive. ‘Is that one of mine?’ he said.
Considering he had brought someone over from the United States to set up his dating sites, or rather sex chat sites, why has he had such a memory loss?
I asked him who would pay for sms chat! ($1-2)? I do not deny that he is an expert on getting cash on the net. The point is what about the people who are losing cash and complaining. I have not insulted either his ex wife or his new younger Thai wife.
I have contacted my lawyers in America regarding every aspect of this and they (as all lawyers do) want to sue etc … I don’t agree with that. Not because it’s I am in the wrong but I still hold hope that reason will prevail. I am continuing to pursue the criminal case against the former employee and will also be pursuing a criminal case regarding the black mail.
Strouse’s lawyer in the US or anywhere is welcome to sue. I will certainly be supporting ‘the former employee’ if he is accused of blackmail. Actually Mr. Strouse contacted lawyers in Thailand too!
All in all it’s kept me up at night. I think of how my past, a perfectly legal, albeit titillating, business can somehow be be used to smear my current company and result in the loss of work, clients and in the end 45 staff who rely on our success as a company to get a paycheck. Not to mention the countless charity ventures we actively support as part of our normal operations as a responsible part of the community.
I love these comments. This has got it all, my poor Thai staff, my charity work.
This is not at all a slur on his Thai staff who alerted me to their worries in the first place. It is good that he gives to charities. He should think of it as earning brownie points for the next life not as proof that he is a man of virtue in this one.
I am awaiting the approval of my local lawyers to publish a detailed account of the threats and charges against this former staff member and I hope that any media who was contacted by them or someone posing as a current staff member might consider the source.
I take it he will not be suing any Thai members of staff. If Mr.Strouse wishes to publish anything it should be about me not his ‘former staff member’. He is not the catalyst and I can defend myself.
Any comments of support are greatly appreciated.
And finally of course the story above was put together in the full knowledge that Mr. Strouse might sue and facts were checked and re-checked. Material which would have raised the profile of this story considerably was witheld.
And just a reminder. This is the full text of an email sent from Mr. Strouse to his ‘former employee’
“I have just gotten back to town. I’ve given it some thought and as I am sure you’re aware I am being hounded by reporters now claiming all kinds of insane shit. If I agree to pay you and drop all charges against you, will you stop going to the press and tell them you were mistaken? “
Now is this a letter to a blackmailer? From what I gather no cash has ever been demanded from Strouse except the statutory three months salary for people who have been employed over a year.