Sunday, January 17, 2010

Scams and Mormonism

Scams and Mormonism

Sunday January 17, 2010

Today’s headline story on the front page of the Austin American-Statesman is: “Triton investors have church ties.” The subtitle of the article is, “Local Mormons felt comfort with founder of company now investigated by state, SEC.” The article begins by talking about Diane Gordon, a Mormon, whose husband was killed in a motorcycle accident in 2004 and who received a multi-million dollar settlement from the insurance company. She invested the money with Kurt Barton, a fellow Mormon, a member of her congregation (ward) and owner of Triton Financial.

The article states: “Three weeks ago, the company was taken over by state and federal regulators, who described Triton’s finances as a $50 million ‘shell game’….Heisman Trophy winners Ty Detmer and Chris Weinke were early investors and, for a time, listed as company executives….But Barton also was known in the church as someone with financial expertise. At one point, the leadership of one of three Austin-area stakes (a stake is a group of several congregations consisting of about 3,000 worshippers) designated him as a knowledgeable congregant other church members could turn to with questions about their finances, according to several members. Such designations are typically made known in regular printed bulletins for members.”

The article goes on to describe an event known as “affinity fraud”: “Church members and others describe the concentration of Triton executives and investors from the Mormon church as a possible example of “affinity fraud,” in which people looking for money often go first to those they know, either personally or through social organizations. ‘It’s common for perpetrators of fraud to target an identifiable group—anyone who shares a common interest,’ said Robert Elder, a spokesman for the state securities board.”

The article also talks about how Mormons use their “Temple Recommends” to help them in their scams. In order to attend a Mormon Temple, a Mormon must be interviewed by their Bishop and Stake President to determine their “worthiness.” Within the context of Mormonism, attending a Mormon Temple is required in order to progress to the highest kingdom of heaven where Mormons believe they can achieve Godhood. So, Mormons with Temple Recommends are viewed as superior Mormons who are well on their way to becoming Gods. This, perception is used by Mormon scammers to gain the confidence of their victims. “Though considered private, the recommend can add another layer of trust to those who attain it…But a recommend doesn’t guarantee business scruples. Last year, Val Southwick pleaded guilty to Utah’s largest swindle ever, cheating investors, many of them Mormon out of $180 million. Southwick ‘showed his LDS temple recommend, or mentioned its existence and his office contains LDS ‘memorabilia,’ all of which appeared designed to breed a sense of trust between Southwick and investors,’ according to a February 2008 investigation summary from the Utah Division of Securities.”

Reading this article brought to mind previous scams and the unpleasant reality that my own parents were swindled out of much of their retirement by a scam hatched in Salt Lake City. My father cashed in his retirement with the State of Arizona and invested it in a pyramid scheme that he was introduced into through his Mormon Church associations. He lost it all and ended up having to work well into his 70’s to try and buy some of it back.

Helen and I did a TV show on our “Truth Outreach” program on this very topic in February 2003: “Salt Lake City is Scam Central.” The program began by talking about a Denver Post article dated May 8, 1983, which states, “In the past two years, Utah has become a haven for con artists” (as reported in The Utah Evangel, August 1983). The article addresses Utah scams and the problem with Utah bankruptcies. In 1983, Utah had the highest bankruptcy per capita filing in the U.S. Looking in my file marked, “scams,” I found that Utah was number 1 in bankruptcies for 2003, 2004, and 2006, with a 3rd place showing in 2005.

Isn’t it amazing that the state that, as of November 2008, was 60.4% Mormon, and being that the Mormon Church claims of itself that it is “the only true and living church on the face of the whole earth,” would have such a problem with moral turpitude? The Utah Evangel, August 1983, article quotes “Utah Attorney General Wilkison ‘a high-ranking church leader’ agrees that Utah is ‘the scam capital of the world.’” For those who claim that all of Christianity is in a fallen state of apostasy, and only they have the truth. If Mormons have the truth, why is Utah the scam capital of the world?


© Copyright 2002 Mormon Missions Midwest Outreach, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 

12 comments:

  1. This is heartbreaking and underlines a point I often make when people question the integrity of a Christian ministry that criticises other religions. People make life-changing, and in some instances life-destroying decisions based on faith and its associations. People need to be informed and need to be warned.

    Affinity fraud is a very good term that sums it up. Fraudsters, we know, depend on building credibility by having things in common with those they cheat. Surely the answer is that we should check out everyone and realise that church is church but there is no sentiment in business.

    I wonder does the Mormon preoccupation with success and building your own "kingdom" make them more gullible as they always have an eye for the main chance. Christ's kingdom is not of this world but the Mormon kingdom certainly is.

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    1. Excellent points. And, directly to the problems with many members within the LDS Church who trust and obey the leadership.

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  2. It's sad but true... It has always been a well known fact that many people in my family who were LDS were very shady in their business deals but it was like an attribute! it was looked upon as being wise! Growing up my own Father would tell me what a little con-artist I was... like it was kind of a good thing!
    I think there may be a demonic strong hold over the LDS people concerning this! After all,
    look at their founder...
    Joseph con man Smith!

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    1. A well known fact in your LDS family many were very shady in their business deals. You sounded as if you were bragging about being a good little con-artist for your Father. And, lastly blaming others for your own bad behavior, as a child and adult by resorting to name calling "Joseph con man Smith!" Why the need for that one?

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  3. Deathbridge ZombieJune 14, 2010 at 6:01 PM

    When it comes to affinity scams it is very easy to label a specific group based on its religious demographics. I am not a Mormon, but I can smell labeling when I see it in such a manner. I am aware of the whole temple recommend thing, reading enough about it online. Out of honesty I would have to use common sense as any other would that those who seek those in the Mormon church are really devout and likely good people in general. Once that recommend is issued, remember people are still human. Any good Mormon can go bad as easily as any Catholic, Presbyterian, Jew, or any other Christian sect. To call this article "Scams and Mormonism" is what I call blind ignorance. If I were to author the article discussed, I would have named it "Scams and World Religions" as all human beings are capable of the same thing whether we agree with that or not. Antimormons and other antis, from all religious denominations or none, this will always be a problem among all our peers regardless of faith or lack thereof.
    Throughout history we see how far religion goes and claims it as "God's Will." As long as humans exist, there will always be this problem in all religions and societies.

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    1. This isn't your blog, your article nor are you a former Mormon, as you stated in your comment. By the way you might what to get another user name "Deathbridge Zombie" sounds childish.

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  4. Affinity Fraud is not unique to Mormons its just highlighted when in Utah due to their concentration. The Baptist in AZ during the 80ties went through the same thing, Bernie Madoff made off with all his brethren's funds and could care less as did the Rabi who will be featured on CNBCTV this week stealing via a slaughter house scam not to mention the ones who stole kidneys and sold them in NY & NJ. African American Churches are targets of their own Pastors & Preachers. These folks who steal by an act of Fraud or gaining confidence are thieves to start with the victims are marks with a common thread. Its not tub-a-ware nor amway be careful. bankalchemist.

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  5. My website was recently targeted by your group. I am an online entrepreneur, SEO consultant, work from home dad and have been a believer all my life...Christian. It was said that I was part of some Mormon MLM conspiracy of sorts by YOU my Christian sisters and brothers...all is okay though, I can understand the misconception when due diligence is not completed. I come from southern Oregon and am part of the Calvary Chapel and Christian Fellowships here. I love working online and from home with my 4 kids and lovely wife...the program you connected me with unfairly and without real understanding of I am apart of as it is an online educational platform...nothing more, nothing less. I do agree with you in part, but I also believe that many MLM programs are good as well as the products they promote...and I also believe that success with them can be found regardless of "nay sayers." So lets all get together and do our due diligence before throwing false accusations at myself, the program that feeds me and my family and most importantly...GOD'S CHILDREN.

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    1. How is this or any ministry for that matter suppose to respond to someone with no profile photo using only the name "D" claiming their website was targeted. If you are a Christian based upon the information in your comment, why would you not use your name and more importantly the name of your website if you were in fact targeted?

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  6. The lesson here is that the only thing a person should invest in is a good business...and not a good person. If the business makes sense, then its probably going to provide a reasonable return. No matter how honest or dishonest the person is, the business must make sense. Never trust the person, only trust the buiness plan. Anyone who invests because of "a person" should lose their money. That's just pure stupidiy. Although I don't necessarily advocate this - I would rather invest with a shady person who has a great business plan than with a supposedly honest person who has a terrible business plan. The point is - don't invest in people - just good businesses. And if you can't tell the difference betweeen a good business and a bad business, then you have no business investing in anything other than a bank savings account.

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  7. lds church is a scham to get your money and control you its a lie from the word go joie was a sex addict and wanted lots of wemon to sleep with.lots of money so he didn't have to work..stole the money from the Kirtland bank then went to Missouri and was run out of there and was killed for crimes in illinios and tge Mormons were run out of there to Utah where they screwed up there with polygamy..they killed a wagoin train there going to calif...to bad the gov didn't kill all Mormons long ago

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  8. people are leaving the cult every day but there still counted as members till there 110 th birthday..15 million members but half of them are dead..16 false prophets

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Rocky and Helen Hulse

Rocky and Helen Hulse
Defending Christianity From Mormon Doctrine