“News organizations across the United Kingdom and religious news organizations operating internationally reported last week that four Adventists are standing trial in the Southwark Crown Court for alleged fraud involving investment schemes to which hundreds of fellow church members may have contributed. Neither the Adventist Review nor the British Union Conference is offering any opinion as to the defendants’ guilt or innocence. Owing to the exposure given to this case, the Adventist Review is reporting here both the statement offered by the British Union Conference (see below) and an article of January 17 prepared by the Religion News Service, an interfaith news organization whose materials regularly appear in our Online Edition news reports." — Editors
Seventh-day Adventist Members in Fraud Case
“It has been widely reported today in the press and aired on the radio that four young men from the Seventh-day Adventist church are being charged with ‘Communicating an invitation or inducement to engage in investment activity between October 3, 2003 and April 5, 2004’. The four young men are denying the charges in a case being held at Southwark Crown Court.
Our heart and prayers go out to all those who have been affected by this case and we want to assure our members that the church will continue to provide stewardship counsel in order to protect the membership.
As the court case is continuing it is therefore impossible for us to make further comments albeit to ask our members to pray for all concerned. We will be willing to make a further statement once the case is concluded. —British Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
4 Adventists on Trial for Fraud
BY AL WEBB ©2007 Religion News Service
our churchgoers have gone on trial in a London court on charges of conning fellow Seventh-day Adventists out of about $6.3 million through a series of bogus investment schemes.
Prosecutors said the quartet, themselves Seventh-day Adventists, used their shared religious backgrounds to lure more than 1,000 of their fellow worshipers into phony investments with promises of return as much as 25 times their original outlay.
The four posed as traders in the British capital's financial district and told their victims "that money that was obtained from them was going to be invested on their behalf," one prosecuting attorney, Stephen Winberg, told Southwark Crown Court.
"It was not," Winberg said. "Hardly any of it was invested."
Instead, authorities said, the four went on a monumental escapade of "wild extravagance," spending their takings from their scams on luxury cars, vacations, money-laundering and a $100,000-a-day spending spree in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East.
While in Dubai, prosecutors said, the alleged con men—Lindani Mangena, Dean Hinkson, Curtis Powell and Jordan Huie--put down a deposit on a luxury apartment valued at $9.4 million.
At one point during their seven-month scam, police said, the four were raking in so much money that they had to buy a cash-counting machine to keep track of it all. "The aim, as with all frauds, was to get victims to part with their money," said Stephen Winberg. The victims were promised "staggering rates of return" on their investment—rates "so attractive that people tended to suspend their judgment."