Fleecing the faithful was all in a day’s work for the latest in a long line of devout swindlers.
The pastor at San Fernando-based Zion Living World Christian Center, formerly known as Amistad Cristiana, admitted to running a Ponzi scheme that involved soliciting loans and saying the money would be invested in foreign currency.
Instead, [Luis Alonzo] Serna said his firm Architects of the Future Investments only used a small amount of the money to invest in foreign currency. He used most of it to placate people who had given money previously.
Serna has 82 known victims, whom he bilked out of almost seven million dollars. CBS Los Angeles reports that the reverend’s wire fraud scheme
… targeted Spanish speaking victims of meager means.
“This case involves an egregious fraud that targeted non-wealthy victims who believed in the defendant because he was a pastor,” prosecutors said in a sentencing memo to the court.
Well, there’s your problem.
“Serna has caused not only financial loss, but the loss of homes, the loss of ability to pay for education for children, the need to declare bankruptcy, psychological damage, physical damage and endless suffering,” prosecutors said.
A judge sentenced the ostensible man of God to 10 years in prison, and also obligated him to pay his marks $4.6 million in restitution.
(Image via Shutterstock)