A man and a woman from Michigan were sentenced for their roles in an alleged multi-million-dollar Ponzi scheme. The alleged fraud involved multiple states and reportedly affected over 140 people. The accused individuals pled guilty in 2019, but their sentencing was delayed until October 2021.
Scheme operated through churches
The man responsible for the alleged white collar crimes was a 64-year-old man who was once a church pastor at Abundant Life Ministries in Flint. Prosecutors say that the man and his 60-year-old female associate enticed wannabe investors at financial seminars that were held at several different churches in Michigan and other states. The pair led people to invest in Treasure Enterprise, LLC, which they said was an asset management and financial planning service.
Too good to be true
Many of the investors in Treasure Enterprise reportedly handed over their retirement accounts and 401(k)s because they were promised guaranteed, high returns. However, the money was never actually invested. Instead, the $9.3 million was deposited into the LLC’s bank account, used to fund Abundant Life Ministries, pay Treasure Enterprise employees and make payments to earlier investors.
Prosecutors said that this case is another reminder that if an investment company promises extremely high returns, the investment is probably too good to be true. Prosecutors also said that investors shouldn’t trust investment advisors just because they belong to the same organization that they do.
Several years in prison
Both of the accused individuals were sentenced to federal prison time followed by two years of probation. The man received a sentence of 100 months in prison, and the woman received a sentence of 42 months in prison. There will be another hearing to determine the restitution payments.