In faith communities, fraudsters prey on trust

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  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    June 19, 2013 5:08 p.m.


    - I never said YOUR religion, I was talking religion in general. And I didn't call YOU a liar, but leaders who use their position of trust to get financial gain - they are the liars. Let me make rephrase what I said. It is dangerous thinking that gets people in these tough positions. Many church members think that because the person they are investing with is honest and moral due to being a member or leader of their same church - that is dangerous thinking. The gullibility is 'he is my bishop, he wouldn't scam me'. That because he is a church leader, and that alone, makes him incapable of taking advantage of me. I had a brother in-law lose $50,000 in a ponzi scheme he got into with a member of his bishopric (mormon). I advised against the deal, and he told me to mind my own business, which I did. He lost the money. It was his whole life savings, and poof - gone. I know first hand how bad these deals can go.

  • l.cee Ridgefield, WA
    June 17, 2013 6:32 p.m.

    A comment on the article: Utah relevence in the title but little said about Utah in the article. And an obvious spot that left the reader hanging is where the point was made about fraudsters prey upon returned missionaries. The writer stated the "what" and never went on with the "how". The article read like the writer rewrote another writer's article and tried to "personalize" it with tidbits of Utah involvement.

  • BYU Track Star Los Angeles, CA
    June 17, 2013 4:53 p.m.

    How ironic an article, Saturday I saw the play "the Sting" in Southern California. Its a story about these two low level grifters (In the '73 movie version were played by Redford and Newman) were able to scam this high level Hoodlum Lonnigan (Played by Robert Shaw) out of one-half Million bucks. In 1930 dollars! What was Lonnigan's downfall was basic human greed and letting revenge interfear with his logical thinking. Also Lonnigan didn't know the grifters cooked/delayed the horse race results they were feeding him. He was hooked and he got an unwanted haircut. Does this sound familiar?

    I love Utah's multi-level marketing culture. The fiction that the participants selling whatever to somebody else as a distributorship will make them rich. The truth is: the original partners make the bucks everybody else works for dirt. As Play-by-the-rules above says. In Utah, the business game is fixed. You best start your own business and hope for the best.

  • play by the rules SOUTH JORDAN, UT
    June 17, 2013 3:56 p.m.

    Growing up in California, my Dad had a principle that he always held firm to. He never did business with church members. I would add that since I have been in Utah, don't work for church members. As a general rule (not speaking for all of them), they pay less, promote brother so and so's kid and you don't get a fair shake if you don't have a political in...

    In my opinion, this is a reflection of the getting ahead of the Joneses mentality in Utah and not a reflection on the Church. When you get 20s and 30 somethings comparing cruises, vacations, cars, and neighborhoods, it catches up in the culture.

    Wages in Utah are becoming less competitive. I know as I am having much more luck with career opportunities in finance outside of Utah than inside Utah.

  • Physics27 Cedar City, UT
    June 17, 2013 3:22 p.m.

    All of you making derogatory comments about the LDS church really should find a better forum than the church owned newspaper. If you don't like what you read then go read the tribune. It will tell you what you want to hear. I hear all this talk about tolerance and how intolerant the church is then I get called a fool for believing in "tall tales" and being a liar. I really hope the comments on this board are not a good representation of the population as a whole.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    June 17, 2013 1:00 p.m.

    Why does it happen here so much? People gullible enough to believe tall tales of religion are gullible enough to believe the lies of their leaders selling snake oil.

  • Mighty Mouse Salt Lake City, Utah
    June 17, 2013 11:03 a.m.

    Here is what you should know in Utah: When your bishop, or former bishop, or high councilman, or Elder's quorum president who seems to be rolling in the dough comes to you with an opportunity to invest in an inside deal in a can't miss venture, the first thing you should do (after you tell him you're not interested) is call the police. Seriously. Call the police and make a report. The D-News doesn't need to tell stories about Ponzi schemes in other states among other faiths. Unfortunately, the LDS Church has more than its share of wolves in sheep's clothing who feed on the flock and our crooks can compete with the best of them. Realy. Call the police. Unfortunately, these scammers usually do not get caught until everyone's money is spent to support the lavish life style of the fraudster. The Cons rely on the fact that they can lull their victims into inaction with more promises because the marks do not want to admit that they were taken and their money is gone. Fraudsters count on this gullibility and denial as an integral part of their schemes.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    June 17, 2013 9:15 a.m.

    It's not just investor fraud that is perpetrated on the faithful.

  • IMAN Marlborough, MA
    June 17, 2013 7:12 a.m.

    When it comes to organized religion the title of this article says it all.

  • Interloper Portland, OR
    June 17, 2013 2:08 a.m.

    First: ""You give a gift, we basically take it offshore — and we've been doing this for nine years, nobody's ever lost a dime — and we multiply it back through the body of Christ.”

    The language fraudsters use is often a giveaway. The remarks above are gobbledygook. The con man was hoping people would focus on the religious reference and not the fact what he was saying made no sense.

    Second: Small acts of charity that get a lot of publicity are often cover for fraudsters. In a profile of Jeremy Johnson in the New York Times over the weekend, his supporters made much of low-value grants he gave to Utahans, ignoring he is alleged to have defrauded people of $400 million. Johnson's two-week 'charity' visit to Haiti was also likely 'cover.'

    Third: Is the state government of Utah really a good place to go for advice on avoiding fraud? The relationship between its leadership and con men in Utah is currently quite high profile. And, note Johnson used shell corporations to get around checking the background of iWorks for years.

  • Zaruski SLC, UT
    June 17, 2013 12:45 a.m.

    Wow, Mr. Merling. Took you 23 paragraphs to tell us something we already know.

    People abuse faith and religion to accumulate wealth and power. Better yet. There are scammers and suckers born every minute.

    What is ironic to me is that the ones running the scam are more often than not the ones preaching morals and values.

    And the ones being scammed? Well, when you can't have a single thought of your own, it's pretty hard to tell whether or not someone is telling you lies.