Mormons targeted in alleged $500 million Ponzi scheme

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A $500 million fraud case in Las Vegas has Utah ties, and serves as a reminder that Latter-day Saints may be particularly vulnerable to financial predation by other church members.

Driving the news: Federal investigators have accused Michael Beasley, Jeffrey Judd and others of targeting members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a $500 million “Mormon Ponzi scheme,” the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Washington Post recently reported.

  • The plan attracted 900 investors from 2017 to 2022, per the Post.

Why it matters: The church and FBI have long warned members of a pattern of affinity fraud — a financial crime that exploits bonds of trust, such as shared affiliation with a religion or other group.

  • Utah has more Ponzi schemes per capita than any other state, and in 2015 became the first to create a white-collar crime registry.
  • That pattern allegedly played out with Judd, Beasley and others who were charged in an SEC civil complaint filed last year.

What they’re saying: “Because we were friends and belonged to the same church, the red flags were heart-shaped,” Ann Mabeus, one of the alleged victims, told the Post. “My bishop was involved and invested, and so were my closest friends.”

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1 comment

  1. As a Jew Bernie Madoff largely targeted Jews, who trusted him as a fellow Jew. Many Ponzi/Pyramid schemes target certain groups, such as women, seniors, fundamentalist Christians or in this case Mormons.

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