Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Phony financial planner defrauds churchgoers

James J. Buchanan of the Christ Life Church in Tempe, Arizona, is accused of defrauding 30-40 people out of over $5 million over the last ten years. He claimed to be a financial planner, and took many people's life's savings, as well as money from the church. The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office says it's hard to tell where the money went, but it appears that he used some of it to pay off early investors in classic Ponzi scheme style, and spent the rest on himself. His scheme collapsed this March, after he refused to provide documentation to show where one investor's money was, and that investor refused a payoff to stay quiet and went to the police.

(A previous discussion of religious affinity fraud on the increase, at the Secular Outpost.)

UPDATE (11 February 2012): Also see "Affinity fraud: Fleecing the flock" from The Economist, January 28, 2012.

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