Comments about ‘California man used Mormon leadership position in investment fraud scheme, SEC says’

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Published: Tuesday, Jan. 3 2012 12:00 p.m. MST

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California Steve
Hanford, CA

My rule has always been never do financial business with a Mormon and I'm a Mormon. It has served me well over the years. Too many hurt feelings to be had that can get in the way of church work and callings.

Salt Lake City, UT

"Investors were promised extraordinary rates of return â up to 200 percent â in a very short amount of time, the complaint says."

G-R-E-E-D, that is what drove Nelson, Wilcox, Thoennes and all of the investors. Everyone involved will get what they deserve. In the end, greed will get you every time.

Somewhere in Colorado, CO

So, what was the specific position in the LDS Church the thug used?

Was he a Bishop or Stake President?

Sunday School teacher?

The truth is, in relation to these stories, a fool and his money are soon parted... And if it sounds too good to be true, it is.

Don't give people money based on promises that make absolutely no sense...

If a family member or friend needs money, I give it to them as a gift. Or I don't give it to them...

And when I lived in Utah, I would hear about investment opportunities... My rule of thumb was that if it took longer than 15 seconds for someone to tell me how a business opportunity worked, I figured that they were trying to rip me off...

I figured that if they needed to draw a diagram to exlpain how their "opportunity" worked, and they couldn't just tell me flat-out, I figured they were lying to me...

Remember this when you are in Utah, or dealing with another member of the LDS Church, or anyone for that matter: If they start drawing stuff as they explain their "opportunity", they are trying to rip you off...

safety dictates, ID

I remember reading a WSJ article about LDS being prime candidates for these kinds of schemes because of their willingness to believe in the goodness of man. That was a decades ago and it just continues. Could the cause just be greed? Are the root causes also manifested in multilevel marketing schemes?

Somewhere in Colorado, CO

Oh, I re-read the article... He was a Ward Mission Leader, and a High-Councilor...

Oops... I missed it the first time...

This reminds me of the time when I was on my mission in Australia. I loved my mission, it was an awesome experience, and I learned a lot while I was out...

We were teaching a woman, and she was progressing towards joining the Church...

We had met her from tracting, and were having some difficulty with involving Ward members in her conversion.

We were initally happy one night when we arrived at her house unannnounced just to check-in with "our" investigator, to see a member and his wife visiting her. Then I saw the flip-charts, pamphlets, and diagrams.

My heart sank when I saw what they were presenting. I was a tough young man, but I about started crying.

When I saw what they were doing, I reacted negatively, but gentlemanly, and the members gathered their things, and quietly left.

Our investigator had a bad taste in her mouth, and eventually asked that no one from our church visit her again.

She thought they had come to welcome her, but instead tried scamming her...

Heber City, UT

I sure hope there's a warm place in hell for these types. The LDS church should publicly announce their excommunication from the church.

Salem, UT

The interesting thing here is someone called these "men" to these positions and kept calling them- I certainly hope they are a little introspective as well- these "men" were passing interview after interview and as such were continually being given the all is well signal from which they could interact with others- perhaps a little thought on that one matters as well since this is not the first time things like this have happened and I doubt it is the only current instance of this behavior as well- callings matter to LDS people- they pay attention and assume often wrongly that is someone has a calling they must be a good person- would not want it the other way around but it does say be careful when issuing a calling

Tempe, AZ

"Many are called but few are chosen". Gee, I wonder why. What a great prophetic revelation!

Orem, UT

boo on dishonest people.

Santaquin, UT

"It never ceases to amaze me how gullibe some of our church members are . . . "
President Harold B. Lee in the General Priesthood Meeting April 1970.

Now President Lee was speaking particularly about those who spread sensational stories and rumors but he might as well have been talking about those who are taken in by scammers and conmen who use their church position to create trust. We are a gullible people and I suppose we always will be.

Beverly Hills, CA

I am LDS and I never do any investing business with anyone in my church. I never did before I joined the LDS Church. I don't do business with people at church, period.

The largest ponzi scheme was by Madoff and started with people close to him and people in his church. It is not religion specific but religion is a vehicle because it is familiarity and trust built in.

I love being LDS and my fellow church members but I will always excuse myself from anyone pushing financial arrives at church on the Sabbath. That should be a red flag even before they promise too good of returns.

Cedar Park, Texas

So sad. From the age of those involved, it looks like a new generation of ponzi schemers are getting caught. These types of frauds seem to crop up every so many years or so when memories of the last schemes start to fade. This has been going on generation after generation in Utah and in the Church. Unfortunately each generation must learn the lesson the hard way. Somehow I wish we could break the cycle.

podunk utah

Utah, Mormon, Ponzi Scheme, Church Leader.... same old story.. over and over and over

Do not be so clueless....If it sounds too good to be true, it generally is

wake up folks

Washougal, Washington

...The SEC focuses on these small operators and let's Bernie Madoff lose 80 billions of dollars in a classic ponzi...What's wrong with this picture?

Idaho Falls, ID

Here in Idaho Falls we had the same thing. a guy used his position in the Ward--EQ Pres--to scam $60 million in a ponzi scheme. almost all the victims were LDS, even his own in-laws. I agree gullibility is part of it, but I'm sad to say, greed to the promise of 25% returns sucked many people in also. This type of thing is just all-around, so very, very sad.

Salt Lake City, UT

Did ever a financial wolf NOT dress in sheep's clothing?

So. Cal Reader
San Diego, CA

My word! How often over the last 40-50 years have the church leaders reminded and reminded church members to avoid "get rich quick schemes" like the plague. As much as I'm ashamed of the listed defendants in this case, not too much sympathy for the individuals who got caught up and lost money in this scheme.

RE: California Steve "My rule has always been never do financial business with a Mormon and I'm a Mormon. It has served me well over the years. Too many hurt feelings to be had that can get in the way of church work and callings."

I very wise practice that I follow as well!

Saratoga Springs, UT

I served a mission in the Philippines and I met a bishop who was previously inactive for a number of years after being bilked out of his life savings by a member of the Stake High Council, shortly after being baptized. He didn't leave the Church for that reason, however. He left when the Church wouldn't release this man's address so he (along with other members) could seek retribution in court.

Ten years after the incident he finally returned to activity and, in a stake conference, this same con artist was being sustained to a position in the stake. He objected, and the calling was rescinded. He never did get his investment back though, and he was unaware of any official action by the Church against this man.

Holladay, UT

When will we learn? If a member of the church uses his standing in the church for business marketing, run. Run as fast as you can.

We Mormons could be a bit wiser. Too bad we fall for this too often.

Temecula, CA

Look business is simple. Never do business with family and friends! Never! Never expect to earn more than market rate. If you do great, if not then your not disappointed. Never invest in something you know nothing or little about. If you don't have a degree, experience or practical knowledge of an area then don't do it! Never! Remember most of us are not as smart as we think we are! Just ask your wife, husband, life partner or your mother! If you had to ask your dad you probably got your rear kicked!
Always sign a contract, never worry about the taste of pie in the sky(it has no taste).
Never do business at church. Boy oh boy didn't the money changers get chased out of the Temple? Learned that one when I was young.
Lastly, not only Mormons deal with these issues! You just don't hear about the other groups that are across the country. Deal in regulated industries, trade groups, and markets!
If you think your stuck in something like this clean out your account. Demand your money back and get off this article!

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