GREENSBORO, N.C. — Six local schools are trying to differentiate the fundraiser they’ve chosen to use from a multimillion dollar Ponzi scheme with a very similar name.
The Securities and Exchange Commission labeled Zeekler and ZeekRewards a combined Ponzi and pyramid scheme in August. But GetZeek, a new fundraiser that functions like a digital coupon book, is not related in any way.
GetZeek’s Chief Operating Officer Matthew Davis said the similarity in names is a complete coincidence.
“We just wanted something really short, simple, easy to say that lent itself to a fuzzy monster mascot,” Davis said.
Davis said ZeekRewards showed up in Google searches before he and his co-founders decided to go with the name for their company, but looking back Davis said he wishes they’d stayed away from it.
“It popped up initially. We didn’t pay much attention to it. Hindsight being 20/20, we probably should have,” Davis said.
GetZeek carries a $25 membership fee for one year of coupons that can be redeemed in the Piedmont Triad. Davis said the company also has fundraising partners in Wilmington, N.C. and northern Virginia. There are about 20 groups using the fledgling company so far.
“We’re really excited for GetZeek. For the first time we’ve been able to combine the rise in mobile phones and mobile coupons and package into something fundraisers can actually sell,” Davis said. “[The confusion] has been a distraction from what we’d actually like to be focusing on right now, which is helping schools raise more money with less effort.”
Jamie King is the principal of Greensboro Middle College, one of the schools that benefits from the program. King said he has received more than a dozen emails from concerned parents wondering if the school had been duped.
“I was like ‘No it’s not. It’s OK. I’ve met the guys. It’s not a Ponzi scheme,'” King said.
King said he hopes his school can buy another classroom set of iPads with the money.
While a name change for GetZeek is not currently planned, it may happen eventually.
“It’s not something we’ve ruled out. We are in the middle of our fundraising season right now, so a name change right now would be really difficult,” Davis said.