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Rip-Off Alert: Mo. minister lures some flock into scam

Reported by: Marie Mortera
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Updated: 9/12/2013 5:41 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV -- You might think that the least likely person to lure you into a financial scam would be your minister. This Rip-Off Alert will make you think again.

The victim, who wants to remain anonymous, said the minister based in Missouri led him to believe that he knew of an investment that was a sure thing.

“I entrusted an individual based on who he was, and I should never have done that,” he said. “It was very disappointing and hurtful, too. I pulled some of my family into this and some extended family members.”

Postal inspectors say the scheme started in 2008 when a group of individuals posing as an investment company claimed they were mining gold, oil and other metals of that sort. The stock shares started at $100, but it was all a scam.

“They indicated that they had mines in Africa, that they were mining gold, silver, diamonds,” said U.S. Postal Inspector Dennis Cunningham, “and they didn’t really have access to any of those mines.”

The bogus investment group initially held seminars in libraries; then they started talking to church groups.

“They got a lot of ministers involved, openly recruiting,” Cunningham said. “In fact, several ministers entered guilty pleas for conspiracy in the case.”

In the end, there were 2,000 victims and more than $7 million in losses.

One of those ministers helped rope this victim and family members into investing thousands.

“I know now even with men of God – you still have to be mindful and investigate whatever you’re investing in – do a thorough investigation,” the victim said.


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