Monday, January 28, 2013

Government Intends to Introduce Audio & Testimony of Religious Affinity Fraud

According to a pretrial document released today, some of the government’s witnesses are going to testify that they trusted Vennes because he prayed with them.

Some witnesses will testify that they failed to pursue due diligence in part because of his ardent professions of faith - if they asked questions about PCI, he treated the questions as evidence of a lack of faith.

Although they are not charging Frank Vennes with "affinity fraud",  that's what it's called:
Affinity fraud refers to investment scams that prey upon members of identifiable groups, such as religious or ethnic communities, the elderly, or professional groups. The fraudsters who promote affinity scams frequently are - or pretend to be - members of the group. They often enlist respected community or religious leaders from within the group to spread the word about the scheme, by convincing those people that a fraudulent investment is legitimate and worthwhile. Many times, those leaders become unwitting victims of the fraudster's ruse.

These scams exploit the trust and friendship that exist in groups of people who have something in common. Because of the tight-knit structure of many groups, it can be difficult for regulators or law enforcement officials to detect an affinity scam. Victims often fail to notify authorities or pursue their legal remedies, and instead try to work things out within the group. This is particularly true where the fraudsters have used respected community or religious leaders to convince others to join the investment.

Many affinity scams involve "Ponzi" or pyramid schemes, where new investor money is used to make payments to earlier investors to give the false illusion that the investment is successful. This ploy is used to trick new investors to invest in the scheme and to lull existing investors into believing their investments are safe and secure. In reality, the fraudster almost always steals investor money for personal use. Both types of schemes depend on an unending supply of new investors - when the inevitable occurs, and the supply of investors dries up, the whole scheme collapses and investors discover that most or all of their money is gone.
Here's some audio of a talk in 4 parts of  Frank Vennes mixing God & money: