I was recently interviewed by John Dehlin who runs the “Mormon Stories” Podcast about affinity fraud in Utah. This episode is available in audio only through John’s podcast, or you can watch the video below.
Episode 606: Mormonism and the Culture of Fraud with Attorney Mark Pugsley
In this episode we interview Utah attorney Mark Pugsley. Mark is a commercial litigator at Ray Quinney & Nebeker, is the founder of the web site UtahSecuritiesFraud.com, and has handled civil disputes, investment fraud cases, securities arbitrations, whistleblower cases and regulatory investigations for over twenty years.
In this episode, Mark discusses the culture of financial fraud (e.g., ponzi schemes) within Utah Mormonism.
For those interested, a list of past Mormon-related cases will be assembled here. Please feel free to share links to other stories in the comments below.
Fraud Cases discussed in the podcast:
- Val Southwick of Ogden, Utah (SEC Complaint was filed in February of 2008). Southwick left $180 million owing to investors when his company collapsed and was put into receivership. This Ponzi scheme lasted over 20 years.
- Jeffrey Mowen of Lindon, Utah (SEC Complaint was filed in September of 2009). Raised approximately $41 million promising bank-backed CDs from a New Zealand bank that paid returns as much as 33% per month.
- Roger Bliss of Bountiful, Utah (SEC Complaint filed in February of 2015). Investors incurred losses of $3,299,689 relating to an “investment club” he ran out of his large Bountiful home. He told investors that he had achieved annual returns of between 100 to 300%.
- Dean Udy of Brigham City, Utah (Sued by State of Utah in August of 2012). Udy scammed approximately 1,500 investors who suffered a total estimated loss of $20 million. He was a former stake president and regional representative in Brigham City, Utah.
- Travis Wright of Holladay, Utah (SEC Complaint was filed in 2010). He raised $145 million from 175 investors promising returns of 24% per year.
- John S. Dudley of Sandy, Utah. (US Attorney obtained a 17-count criminal indictment in May 2011) Investors suffered $6.8 million in losses, promised returns of 5-10% per month.
- Shawn Merriman of Denver Colorado (SEC Complaint filed in April of 2009). He was sentenced to 12½ years in federal prison for defrauding 67 victims out of $21 million. Merriman was a Bishop in the LDS Church in Colorado and raised the money from friends, neighbors and fellow church members. The government seized roughly $4 million in fine art, antique cars, sports memorabilia and animal trophies collected on his safari trips when they arrested him.
- Wendell Jacobsen of Fountain Green, Utah (SEC Complaint was filed in December of 2011, Utah AG’s office brought criminal charges earlier this year) Allegedly raised $200 million from more than 400 investors promising returns of 12-15% per year returns by investing in apartment complexes.