You might think that the least likely person to lure you into a financial scam would be your minister. But inspectors say several men of the cloth got involved in a scheme that cost investors millions of dollars.
"I entrusted an individual based on who he was, and I should never have done that," said one of the victims who doesn't want to reveal his name.
The individual was a minister who led the victim to believe he knew of an investment that was a sure thing.
"It was very disappointing and hurtful too," said the victim. "I pulled some of my family into this and some extended family members."
Postal inspectors say the scheme started in 2008 when a group of individuals, posing as an investment company, claimed they were mining gold, oil and other metals of that sort.
"The stock shares started at $100," explained US Postal Inspector Dennis Cunningham.
But, it was all a scam.
"They indicated that they had mines in Africa, that they were mining gold, silver, diamonds and they didn't really have access to any of those mines," said Cunningham.
The bogus investment group initially held seminars in libraries. Then they started talking to church groups.
"They got a lot of ministers involved, openly recruiting. In fact, several ministers entered guilty pleas for conspiracy in the case," explained Cunningham.
There were two thousand victims that lost more $7 million combined.
One of those ministers helped rope this victim and family members into investing thousands.
"I know now even with men of God, you still have to be mindful and investigate whatever you're investing in, do a thorough investigation," the victim warned.
"Research that company, check with the Better Business Bureau in that state, check to see if there are any complaints filed against them," advised Cunningham.
In fact,- postal inspectors say a call to state officials in this case could have been beneficial.
"The secretary of state had an open investigation in that company," said Cunningham.
Inspectors reiterate that all investments carry risk. Take the time to thoroughly research a company and the people who want you to invest.