As ever, Kathy Phelps' excellent roundup of Ponzi schemes makes interesting and rather depressing reading. The case of Larry Bates' "Mystery Babylon" caught my eye as it appears that the sentencing took account of his breach of trust - as a minister - despite his age. Sadly Ponzi schemes continue to flourish.
Larry Bates, 73, was sentenced to 21 years and 10 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $21 million for operating a Ponzi scheme through First American Monetary Consultants that defrauded more than 400 victims. Bates told listeners of his Christian broadcast programs that they should buy gold and silver coins as financial protection from a supposedly imminent religious and economic collapse called “Mystery Babylon.” Investors paid $87 million into the scheme to buy precious metals, but Bates and his two sons, Chuck Bates and Robert Bates, and daughter-in-law, Kinsey Bates, kept the money for their personal use. Chuck and Robert were sentenced to more than 12 years and Kinsey received more than 5 years.