For several years, Larry Bates told gullible Christians that they should buy gold and silver coins from him because the “Mystery Babylon” was upon them, the banks were going to collapse, they would lose their life savings, but those coins would still be worth every penny.
A lot of people fell for it.
Bates, after all, was a former Tennessee state legislator in the 1970s, the former chair of the House Committee on Banking and Commerce, and a trusted man of God. When all was said and done, he and his family members made over $87 million. Many of the customers, naturally, never got their coins. Even some who did felt like they had been duped.
The good news? The 73-year-old Bates will be going to jail for what is likely the rest of his life. Yesterday, a judge sentenced him to 21 years in prison on top of paying back millions to the people he defrauded.
U.S. District Judge Sheryl Lipman ordered Bates, 73, to repay more than $21 million to victims. A large number of those victims were elderly Americans who lost life savings and the ability to pay for health care, prosecutors said.
Lipman did not criticize Bates for his religious and world views.
But she did say this: “Your use of religion to gain trust is appalling.”
This is no different than how many televangelists operate. They convince viewers to trust them by talking about their devout faith. They urge people to send them money as a “seed.” And that seed never blossoms into anything for the victims. The televangelists, on the other hand, seem to do just fine.
At least this time, the con artist is going to jail for his crimes. And his family may join him soon.
(Thanks to Scott for the link)