Roy Fluker, Jr. and his family claimed they were in the business of helping people improve their lives. Postal inspectors say they would ask pastors if they could speak with their congregations directly. their message was simple.
"We're going to get people out of poverty. We're going to really help them out. Once he got in with the pastors and got their trust he they kind of unknowingly began working for them," explained U.S. Postal Inspector Matthew Carlson.
Fluker's investment program was called "More Than Enough" and investors would get 25-percent of their total investment every month for a year.
"If you invested $1,000, - you would receive $250.00 after the first month," added Carlson.
Fluker also offered a housing program for distressed homeowners.
Carlson explained,"They would say if you can refinance or get a new loan - you give us all of the equity in your house that you have and we'll invest it, and then for 6 months you won't have to make any payments and after that 6 months you make half payments and we would make the rest of the payments in 5 years the house will be paid off."
The pitch worked on so many people. More than 3,000 victims lost their savings and their homes. Losses exceeded $9 million.
"This wasn't legitimate at all. This was a way to trick people into turning over all of the equity in their home. Some of these people were foreclosed on and really got really hurt," said Carlson. "These people who run these Ponzi schemes are con artists, they are going to get in and try and convince you this is a good thing."
Some advice from postal inspectors: Take the time to do your research. A simple online search would have raised a red flag.
"The Internet is a wonderful thing, you can search. If you had "Googled" Ray Fluker Jr. you would have found there was a similar thing happening in Michigan that he was caught in. There would have been little red flags to say something is just not right," explained Carlson.
Postal inspectors say it is also important for consumers to remember there are no guarantees in investing. If you hear the word "guarantee," walk away.
Meantime, Roy Fluker, Jr, was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison in connection with the scheme. His adult son and daughter, who were also part of the scheme, were sentenced to eight years in prison respectively. The group was also ordered to pay more than $7 million in restitution.