IMA Members Filing Complaints Against Internet Merchants Association with Florida Attorney General Economic Crimes Division

Florida Attorney General

A special meeting of the membership of the Internet Merchants Association was announced yesterday ( Sunday, July 6th, 2008 ). This meeting, called by and for the rank & file members of the association, scheduled to begin on July 10th, was to be held in a secure Internet conference format. 

According to the Association bylaws (as they existed at the time this meeting was called), there were no rules defined in the IMA rules to prevent a member meeting, special or otherwise, from taking place on the Internet or anywhere else.  The bylaws previously stated any meeting held must include attendance by 50% of the association membership, but the rules did not specifically preclude this or any meeting from occurring online.

That is, until late in the evening last night.

Apparently, from reports on this publication and others, the Board of Directors of the IMA called their own special meeting in the middle of last Sunday night.  In this special secret meeting of the BOD the rules for assembly were changed to prevent the aforementioned special meeting called by the membership from occurring.  Prior to last nights changing of the rules, the membership of the IMA could call a meeting anywhere, now after the changes made by three board members of the association, meetings must be held in person in the State of Florida.

Members of the IMA are concerned about a last minute change by the Board of Directors of the Internet Merchants Association of the Association bylaws apparently meant to prevent the membership from holding a meeting designed to be held on an Internet forum and presumably intended as a means to elect a new Board of Directors and President.

The membership believed the bylaws of the Association would allow such a meeting and that any new elections or actions which occurred during said meeting would be binding. This very well could have been true, until the rules were changed in the middle of the night.

The membership of the Internet Merchants Association reportedly live in several different States and countries. Presumably not all, or even half of the membership would not be available to travel to Florida for any special meeting held under circumstances of crisis such as has been recently reported at the IMA.

The latest reports and comments now openly call for the involvement of the Florida Attorney General in this matter.  Several members of the IMA have posted links and contact information for the Attorney Generals Offices in Florida, along with an outline of the basis of a complaint against the Board of Directors of the Internet Merchants Association. 

These members feel the last minute change of the bylaws, which now prevent the membership from meeting without the blessing of the BOD, has been an illegal act. Organizers of this official complaint want as many members of the IMA as possible to file complaints with the Economic Crimes Division of the Florida Attorney Generals Office in Tallahassee. 

The following is quoted from a comment posted on another site (And apparently on the IMA Discussion board). 

We now believe that it is in the best interest of the membership of the IMA to begin filing complaints with the Economic Crimes Division of the Florida Attorney Generals Office.

We want them to receive multiple complaints tomorrow. You can fill out the complaint report by going here:
[url]
http://myfloridalegal.com/Contact.nsf/Contact?OpenForm&Section=Economic_Crimes[/url]

The official address of the IMA is :

Internet Merchant Association
11792 Osprey Point Circle
Wellington, FL 33449-8367
phone: 561 615-1471

The three remaining Board members are:

Steve C. Grossberg
sgrossberg@budgetvideogames.com

Ben Mandell
ben@avianaorlando.com

Cathy Aggelopoulos
info@visibilityunlimited.com

Under question or comment, you should state that The Internet Merchants Association is a Florida Corporation.

The primary complaint is that a Special Meeting was called by the membership to be held online, since IMA members are located throughout the US, Canada and the United Kingdom. After the meeting was announced, the Board of Directors changed the bylaws regarding where the meeting could be conducted, in an attempt to stop the meeting. Please note in your complaint that 3 of the 6 remaining Board of Directors resigned from the organization in the last 4 days.

If you prefer, you can call the Florida Attorney Generals Office at 850-414-3300.

We need as many of you as possible to file this complaint. We believe the actions of the Board of Directors to be illegal, and need to make sure that we have multiple reports into the Florida Attorney Generals Office, so that it gets the appropriate attention.

Board of Directors and Moderators - Please note that any removal or modifications to this post may be legally considered as grounds for obstruction of justice.

 

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0 Responses to IMA Members Filing Complaints Against Internet Merchants Association with Florida Attorney General Economic Crimes Division

  1. Scott Pooler July 7, 2008 at 8:39 am #

    The following “IMA Presidents Letter to the Membership” was sent to us anonymously and unsigned. As I am unsure of the provinence of this text I will post it as a comment for discussion here.

    To the members of IMA

    First off it has been an eventful past week to say the least. I can assure you the board members have served IMA with nothing but the best intentions of the members and the organization in mind. We have always been above board, transparent and never did anything that was not in the best interests of the organization or for personal gain. In fact quite the contrary as most of us have spent thousands of volunteer hours, and even used our own monies to conduct IMA business, never mind the fact that IMA has taken away from time with our families’ friends and businesses.

    I will not be addressing the current issues that caused the controversy even though I know most of you want all the facts and details. The board from which I am a part of has a policy in place for protecting the privacy of our members and I believe this is the proper policy and I assure you all the board members agree as well and this was discussed intensely and was voted on unanimously. All I can say is you will simply have to trust us that unless something rose to the level where is questioned someone’s integrity, was illegal or a criminal act we will not discuss details of any disputes.

    I spent over 20 years dealing in HR issues and I have never seen this done anywhere that details and specifics were disclosed on minor incidents or disputes. The senate does not release information if the sanction a member and they are elected officials who work for the people. So I ask members to honor our policy of privacy and understand the board thought about this policy long and hard before adapting it and we are convinced it is the right thing to have in place.

    It was amazing to me how the media was all over this thing. I asked myself how successful could IMA have been if the media was to give us 10% of the attention they recently gave us for the positive things we do. So for those of you who contacted the media and were responsible for the avalanche of press and attention during a rough time, please continue these energies during the positive times and help us to continue to build IMA.

    We have built a successful professional trade association here and we intend to move forward with what we have built and make it even more successful as we move forward. We have lots of smart people within IMA and we have lots of great ideas. Distractions and bickering only sidetrack the organization from moving forward.

    I will be the first to admit that I have had my share of disputes and debates with other members within the organization. For that I would like to sincerely apologize to all members and especially those on the receiving end of one of my squabbles. Believe it or not I do have a lot of insight into my own behavior and I know my strengths and weaknesses.

    I am making a pledge to all members that I will do my best to control this and be respectful and courteous in my communications. I also ask you all do the same in return. Again like I stated earlier I do have insight into my own behavior and I just like anyone else here does not like being attacked or on the receiving end of a disparaging comment. So often when I feel attacked I come back and come back hard. It is because I am outspoken and come back hard it stings a lot and apparently offends other members and distracts from the organization and diminishes the fact we have accomplished a lot good things together.

    So I am asking the members of IMA to unite and put the past behind us and help us move forward and do so in a professional, courteous, and respectful manner. I will lead by example. I would hope that the members who were quick to criticize can also look back and see some of the positive. Those members who I have had your full support throughout the good and bad times, I thank you. I was elected by the members of IMA to the board and elected as president by my peers and I intend to honor and fulfill my duties as an elected representative.

    There is a definitely a need for a strong professional sellers group. I think together we have built a great foundation by achieving non profit status, putting on 2 successful conferences with plans started to do a third, having this IMA hosted forum and the list goes on. I would also add if you are here to be a part of a professional trade association and help us shape the organization for the betterment of all, then please stay and be a part of it and offer us your ideas and suggestions.

    I would like to close by saying thanks to all the board members who have worked tirelessly and gave up precious time for the IMA. The same holds true to all committee members who have done the same. And also to you the members as of course without you there would be no IMA.

  2. donnie July 7, 2008 at 9:24 am #

    No doubt this comes from Steve. Seems he consulted a psychiatrist lately. He is more judicious than ever 🙂

  3. Scott Pooler July 7, 2008 at 10:23 am #

    Trading Assistant Journal – links removed from IMA discussion boards?

    Since this story broke late last week we have been receiving consistent traffic from the discussion boards at the IMA.

    Until today…

    The Trading Assistant Journal is still receiving numerous hits on the IMA article(s) we have posted in the last 5 days, but all of a sudden… Just today… not one hit has come from the IMA discussion boards.

    The IMA board of directors may limit its readership from seeing our links on the discussion board, but do they seriously think this action will prevent it’s membership from simply searching Google for stories related to the current situation at Internet Merchants Association?

    Editing discussion threads is one of the most problematic situations eBay sellers experience when using the discussion boards at eBay, why would a members only group like the IMA edit or retract discussion among its own membership?

    In today’s world of social networking and Internet access, controlling the message in this manner only serves to damage the reputation of the governing body who retracts open discussion topics after they have been published.

    The effect is undermining the faith of the membership of any discussion board in the opportunity presented by offering a discussion forum in the first place. People want to know they will be heard if they have an honest and well presented opinion.

    IMA – Please stop editing your members comments on their membership discussion board. While you may be able to remove the message, you can not remove the thoughts behind the message.

  4. Unbelievable July 7, 2008 at 11:05 am #

    Yes, the link has been removed along with much of the membership. Many people woke up today to partial membership refund (in the $20 range) and blocked access to the forum.

    The full truth is now available. Larry has posted what happened here: http://sportinggoodsusa.blogspot.com/

    Complaints are being filed.

  5. 1 July 7, 2008 at 1:08 pm #

    Scott’s comment above is indeed the post of Steve Grossberg, signed by Steve, stickied to the top of the IMA board. I don’t believe he wrote it however. I believe it was written for him and he signed off on it which is not the first time.

    Numerous IMA members were kicked out of IMA today by the BOD and sent prorated refunds. They did not want to be removed, they were forcibly removed because they were the most vocal about what is going on within IMA. Three of the BOD’s who resigned because of this mess were kicked out. The fourth left on her own previously.

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