In a recently filed complaint,The SEC charged a prominent pastor in a scheme to defraud investors out of millions of dollars. Using his religious clout and reputation, the pastor leveraged investments out of devoted followers, mainly elderly. Between 2013 and 2014, the SEC alleges that Kirbyjon Caldwell, Pastor of the Windsor Village Methodist Church and Gregory Alan Smith, a financial planner previously barred by FINRA managed to dupe investors out of nearly $3.5 million. Caldwell and Smith used most of the funds to cover personal expenses. They funneled the remaining funds to off-shore accounts.
The case represents a pervasive issue for financial and securities regulators: affinity fraud.