The LDS Church Issues a Strong Position on Affinity Fraud

I am pleased to see that after years of urging from me and others who have seen affinity fraud perpetrated within LDS church congregations for years (especially in Utah County) the church has finally stepped up to the plate and taken a stronger position on this issue.  They did so at the annual Fraud College event that took place on February 15, 2012 at the University of Utah, and on their website.  The church was asked to speak at the first Fraud College 2010, but they declined that year, and they declined again in 2011.  This “head in the sand” response to the problem was infuriating to federal and state law enforcement officials – and to me.

Thankfully the Church leadership finally decided this year that they needed to acknowledge and confront the growing incidence of church members — often in positions of trust within the church — victimizing other church members.  The FBI has stated that Utah is a hot spot for financial fraud and estimate that $2 billion worth of fraud is “under investigation or being prosecuted in Utah courts.”

The speaker at the conference was Michael Otterson, managing director of the Church’s Public Affairs Department.  And he didn’t mess around.  He compared fraudsters to child molesters because they “exploit one of the things we value most: the trust that makes our communities what they are.”

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PREYING ON THE FAITHFUL: Thoughts about the Salt Lake Tribune article

Tom Harvey put together a well-researched article on investment scams in Utah that appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune this weekend.  I have just been reading all of the comments about it (149 so far) and aside from the usual anti-Mormon drivel that always seems to fill up the comments in any article that even remotely references the Church, it was interesting to read the comments about why the LDS Church is not participating in the “Fraud College” event that will take place in June.  One comment stated, in effect, that if the church put as much money and effort into fighting fraud among members as it does fighting gay marriage, the problem would be solved.

According to the Tribune article the church did issue a written statement insisting that “church leaders have been warning members for years about the dangers of fraud and get-rich-quick schemes. ‘These messages have been delivered over the pulpit in General Conference, in official letters from church leadership, and in articles found in official church publications.'”  Unfortunately the full statement was not quoted in the article. Continue reading “PREYING ON THE FAITHFUL: Thoughts about the Salt Lake Tribune article”