The Dangers of Being a “Finder” – Another Conviction in the VesCor Ponzi Scheme

Yesterday William J. Hammons, 66, was convicted of seven of nine criminal charges by a jury in St. George, Utah.   Hammons was one of the largest finders or feeders of investors to Val Southwick and his company VesCor, which is now known as the largest Ponzi scheme in Utah history.  He recommended the investment to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Las Vegas, where Hammons served as a bishop, and in St. George, Utah.  The St. George investors included neighbors, church members, Hammons’ partner and his parents-in-law.   What he did not tell these people was that in exchange for these referrals he received substantial “referral fees” or commissions from Val Southwick.

In his defense, one of the Fresno defense attorney, Clifford Dunn tried to convince the jury that Mr. Hammons was just an innocent bystander.  According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Hammons testified “that he was unaware that VesCor was a fraud, that he didn’t seek out investors and never officially worked for the company.  Instead, he cast himself as just another investor who was paid only referral fees.”   Continue reading “The Dangers of Being a “Finder” – Another Conviction in the VesCor Ponzi Scheme”

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”