jesus christ and cross on top of dollar bill

Posted by Mark Pugsley.

This is not a Utah case, but I thought the parallels to other cases I have written about here were striking.  This is a repost of an article that appeared in the Boston Globe today:

Man charged in Ponzi scheme claimed a ‘divine’ strategy

By Jack Newsham GLOBE CORRESPONDENT JUNE 02, 2015

Charles L. Erickson has been charged with running a Ponzi scheme and raising funds from people at his church by claiming his investment strategy was divinely inspired.

The Massachusetts Secretary of State’s office said Tuesday it filed civil charges against Erickson seeking compensation for investors and a ban from the securities industry. According to the Secretary of State’s office, Erickson started collecting money in 2010 and his scheme fell apart in 2014.

“Erickson believed that the ‘Holy Spirit’ had given him a proprietary system for day trading a particularly volatile type of futures contract,’’ the complaint filed by Galvin’s office said. “Erickson pooled investor funds into online brokerage accounts and began trading pursuant to his purportedly divine system.”

According to Galvin’s office, Erickson began investing in E-Mini Russell 2000 futures contracts in 2008 to supplement his retirement income. In 2010, he started taking money from others at his unnamed Ashland church, but did not invest all of it; about half was kept in his checking accounts to pay the returns he promised.

By late 2014, he told investors that he had “lost everything.” Around seven of the at least 25 investors were fellow church members. Some of his investors, Erickson allegedly told investigators, were living “hand to mouth.”

“Ponzi schemes are insidious tricks on investors because they seem to work, but inevitably collapse,” Secretary of State William Galvin said in a statement. “It is especially distressing when it occurs in the context of affinity fraud where investors are victimized by misplaced trust.”

A spokesman for the secretary of state’s office said Erickson didn’t have an attorney. He could not immediately be reached for comment, but according to the complaint, said it was “my shame and my sin” that he recruited people from his church.

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