We’ve seen this before. Churches promote investments and the parishoners are taken for a ride. Are they being duped by their faith in other people of faith?
A 58-year-old man was convicted Monday for stealing more than $600,000 from Bethel Church members in Redding as part of a scheme where he claimed his investment decisions were divinely guided.
David Arnold Souza was convicted of 21 felony counts and four related enhancements for committing theft by false pretenses by a Shasta County jury.
After obtaining $648,401 from the victims Souza spent the money on his own expenses, including a $1,800 per month rental Cadillac, more than $15,000 in dental work, meals, travel and gym memberships.
Souza never invested any of the money in the stock market or any real estate development.
He created marketing materials claiming he was guided by God in making investment decisions and used the slogan Where business is moral and the miraculous is routine.
It’s not like this is new but it is effective. Televangelists get people to hand over their cash all the time. And we have similar stories to this one regarding investing: Call him Bishop Ponzi and haul him to jail, Bible marketing: Ponzi scheme took many investors (UPDATE: Caught).
The king of this misplaced trust is probably Popoff.