Christians are being scammed out of their life savings like never before. We have a cancer in the body of Christ, and we must ERADICATE it.
We have Christians who are being scammed in the name of God/Christ by people claiming to be Christians, by fellow Christians, and if that was not bad enough, by pastors, former pastors, deacons, and elders of the church.
Yes, we have wolves in sheep’s clothing among us. A conman on his death bed was asked how he was able to steal so much money. His answer may shock you. He said, “I joined a church.” When pressed as to why he replied: “I have instant trust and credibility. No one expects a fellow Christian to steal from them. They want to believe the investments are real, and they will buy any story I tell them as to why payments are delayed. Besides, Christians do not sue other Christians.”
But what has been the most shocking to me has been the people who are running these illegal programs of late have been our pastors. People we have been taught to trust without question. Here’s what I am talking about:
South Carolina St. Johns Reformed Episcopal Church in Charleston was built ten years before Abraham Lincoln was elected president and eleven years before the first shot of the civil war. Its pastor, Ronald E. Satterfield, 63, was charged with running a $5 million FOREX Ponzi from church property and elsewhere.
In a Ponzi scheme “inspired by God,” a California man, an Oregon man and a pastor from Perris, CA were sentenced for running a Ponzi scheme that robbed 500 investors of $32 million in a fake gold mine scam.
Attorney and Anglican bishop, Martin Sigillito, 62, of Webster Groves, MO, and two co-defendants were indicted for running a $52.5 million Ponzi scheme that ran for a decade.
Leaders of Greater Ministries International, based in Tampa, Fla., defrauded thousands of people of half a billion dollars ($500 million) by promising to double money on investments that ministry officials said were blessed by God.
Forest Lake preacher Neulan Midkiff got many of his friends, neighbors and congregants into a pyramid scheme that took in as much as $390 million. He also ran offshoots Central Financial Services and Joshua Tree Group that scammed 519 people from Minnesota and Louisiana of $30 million.
Just the examples above total more than $1.1 billion. What is sad is that the list is much, much longer than this. But I hope you get the message.
Not only are pastors, former pastors, deacons, and elders running these illegal programs, but other professionals we are taught to trust are also running them all in the name of Christianity. I am talking attorneys, CPAs, financial planners, stock brokers, insurance agents, retired policemen, a Christian radio talk show host, and hedge fund managers. Even an Amish elder stole $33 million from his fellow Amish.
As Christians, we are to be good stewards of our money. Sadly, many of us are falling way short in this area of our Christian walk. This means that money that normally would have been spent on expanding the kingdom of Jesus Christ by bringing people to Christ through various outreach programs and missionaries are being left unfulfil-led due to these staggering losses.
Before you think this is not a major crisis in the church, think again. We have had denominations lose their church buildings to these scams. It is costing the Christian community billions of dollars each year, and in the last three years has exceeded $10 billion. One self-professed Christian stole over $990 million from ten churches in New England in a five year period before he was caught. Crossroads Community Church congregants in Corona lost over $50 million to a member of their choir.
Before you invest in anything, check it out. DO NOT TRUST ANYONE BEFORE YOU VERIFY. Once you have been able to verify the investment is real, then TRUST the person offering the investment. We have to stop being so trusting first, and then asking questions later.
So how do you protect yourself? You do these things:
- Before you invest, make sure the investment is registered with the SEC, and the person offering you the investment is a registered broker with FINRA. All invest-ments must be registered, and the person offering the investment must be a licensed broker.
- If you are being offered a commodity trading program, FOREX, Hedge Fund, etc., you check with the CFTC (Commodities Futures Trading Commission) to make sure it is registered, and with NFA (National Futures Association). Links to the SEC, FINRA, CFTC and NFA are on our website under our Consumer Assistance link.
- Do not invest in anything you do not understand. EVER! If the person offering you the investment cannot explain it so you understand it, you do not need to be in the investment.
- If you are still unsure as to what you should do, do not hesitate to contact us. Use the Contact Us link on our website to send us an e-mail message and ask your question. Be sure to give us as much information as you can so we can process your request quickly.
Also, feel free to contact me about speaking to your church or pastoral staff. We gladly do free community seminars at your church to educate and warn your church family, as well as the community at large. It is a great way for your church to do outreach to the community.
If you want me to speak at your church, community seminar, service club, or professional organization, give me a call at 949-837-6078 to determine my availability.