Where money meets faith, bring skepticism

This is a repost of a good article on affinity fraud by  that appeared in the Washington Post this week:

Where money meets faith, bring skepticism

Robert “Dr. Shine” Freeman, a Maryland minister, took the command “let us pray” and turned it into “let us prey.”Because that’s what he did. He preyed on his people. Prosecutors said Freeman, 56, hid assets to avoid paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in debts. He recently pleaded guilty to obstructing bankruptcy court proceedings and received a 27-month prison sentence. He was ordered to pay more than $630,000 in restitution to four church members who took out loans to buy cars and a mansion.

What Freeman did falls under “affinity fraud.” Affinity fraud is when people use a personal connection such as religion or ethnic status to gain people’s trust and their money.Nearly one in four Ponzi schemes involve affinity-group targets, according to a study by consulting firm Marquet International of major Ponzi schemes in the United States since 2002. The three most common affinity groups targeted by Ponzi schemers, accounting for 85 percent of such cases, were the elderly or retired, religious groups and ethnic groups. Continue reading “Where money meets faith, bring skepticism”