Accused Ponzi Scheme Organizer Targeted Mormon Congregations

The scam involved nearly half a billion dollars

An especially egregious betrayal of trust.
金 运/Unsplash

You might think that someone you encounter through a church or other religious organization would be especially trustworthy. And why not? After all, religions of all varieties emphasize treating others with empathy and kindness — and, you know, not defrauding other people. Unfortunately for the targets of one alleged Ponzi schemer, however, they were targeted by someone who presented himself as eminently trustworthy — and proved to be anything but.

A blockbuster article in The Washington Post has more details on the unnerving case of attorney Matt Beasley, who was arrested by the F.B.I. under suspicion of running a Ponzi scheme. The article lays out the centerpiece of the scam: the organizers told investors that they could put their money in a fund that provided short-term loans to people awaiting payment for lawsuits.

Cue the old adage about things that sound too good to be true. Turns out the lawsuits were not actually real; instead, the organizers allegedly pocketed the income from investors over the course of five years. According to the Securities and Exchange Commission’s complaint from last year, the total income brought in by the scheme came to $450 million.

The article notes that Mormons were the primary targets of the Ponzi scheme, with over 900 people ultimately caught up in it. Following a standoff with the FBI, Beasley is currently in a detention center in Nevada — while those affected by the scam struggle to recover from the loss.

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