Investments “guided by God”, right to the bank

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?

Church-goers bilked by divine’ advice – Red Bluff Daily News Online.

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.

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  5 comments for “Investments “guided by God”, right to the bank

  1. January 2, 2014 at 4:19 PM

    This is not dissimilar to Sean David Morton’s psychic stock market predictions. So I am a little surprised that church goers would be that stupid. There’s got to be something in the Bible cautioning against shady investment schemes.

    • January 8, 2014 at 9:27 AM

      It’s not stupidity, but trust that motivates people to invest with people who present themselves as one of the faithful. Anybody can be fooled.

  2. Chris Howard
    January 2, 2014 at 4:22 PM

    People love to rationalize their greed.

    “God wills it” will never go out of style.

    It’s all about projection; no one ever says “God doesn’t want me to be greedy, but I’m going to do it anyway.”
    They always try to interpret their beliefs to sate their desires.

    So if you believe the bizarre strain of American Calvinistic-Evangelicalism, currently in vogue in the US, which reads like the Christian version of The Secrets “Law” of Attraction then you’ve got the perfect divine command theory for sociopaths.

    I’ve actually heard this “God wants me to be successful. The more righteous I am the more success He grants me. It’s how I know that I’m saved.”

    It all smacks of “I was just following orders?” and the reason that I bring it up is because many people who do this sort of thing often times believe that they did nothing wrong. In fact they usually have fooled themselves into thinking that what they have done is in the name of God, and therefore good.

  3. Peter Robinson
    January 2, 2014 at 5:16 PM

    This story is almost a perfect example of where one form of gullibility i.e. belief in an active deity, leads people astray by leaving them open to unquestioning belief in another load of old nonsense.

  4. January 2, 2014 at 10:40 PM

    I’ve listened to certain talk radio shows (a bad habit), and heard ads for “bible code” finance/investing schemes. The URLs given always have a number such as 17 at the end (as in blah-blah-blah17.com) – I wonder if the the earlier URLs were taken over by federal investigators, or what. These remind me of similar “make money at home” ads which also have some number at the end of the URL. Yes, people DO make money on these schemes – the people who are paying for the advertisements!

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