3 Men Posed as Fake Pastors and Financial Advisors, Making Nearly $28M in Ponzi Scheme

Photo Credit: Unsplash/ Leiada Krozjhen

Three Maryland men who pretended to be pastors and financial advisors were sentenced Thursday after running a Ponzi scheme that brought in nearly $28 million, per Insider.

The men, John Erasmus Frimpong, Arley Ray Johnson, and Dennis Jali are accused of promoting a bogus financial literacy and wealth management firm named

“1st Millions”

in August 2017, where they lied to investors about investing in forex and crypto ventures that would bring them a monthly return on investments as high as 35%, reports reveal. 

According to prosecutors, the men

“frequented churches, hotel galas, and upscale events to recruit at least 1,200 victims”

who reportedly coughed up millions of dollars to them. The men allegedly told their victims that they were licensed traders under the laws of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, reports state. 

The three men

“presented themselves as ‘pastors,’ and told prospective investors that 1st Million’s work was in furtherance of God’s mission in that it helped churches and their members achieve personal wealth and financial freedom,”

prosecutors said in court documents.

The thieves reportedly used the money to maintain a lavish lifestyle. They are accused of staying in luxury hotels, with one making a $27,000 purchase on an Audi, $20,000 on a Porsche, and $78,000 on private jets. However, things started to get shaky for the men after their Bank of America account was hit with overdraft fees of over $100,000, reports reveal. The men had reportedly begun giving investors fake monthly return checks. 

The scam started to fall apart during the spring of 2019 when Dennis Jali fled to South Africa. Jali is accused of attempting to get his identity expunged from the internet entirely. He was later arrested in South Africa, according to DOJ. John Erasmus Frimpong was sentenced to about 10 years in prison, and Arley Ray Johnson, was sentenced to six years on

“conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, and securities fraud charges,”

reports reveal. Jali still awaits sentencing. 

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