by Brian Mahany
Credit counselors are there to help us manage our finances, get out of debt and help us achieve financial freedom. Apparently Alfred Parker of Woodland Hills, California didn’t quite understand that. Parker, who worked as a credit counselor for a non-profit company providing credit counseling to low-income families, was sentenced this week to 46 months in a federal prison. His crime? Bilking $2 million from his victims.
Targeting primarily African-American people, Parker raised $2 million with the promise of “guaranteed” returns as high as 40% in just 3 months. The money was to be used to help people avoid foreclosures and make payments on their debts.
Parker instead used the money to purchase a Rolls Royce Phantom, 2 Ferraris, and a $2.5 million home. In typical Ponzi scheme fashion, some of the money also went to pay earlier investors. The government says he even paid for his wedding with money stolen from others. He will not be joining his new bride for a honeymoon anytime soon.
Not getting enough money from individual victims, Parker obtained a $200,000 line of credit by falsely claiming that he had $2,000,000 in savings and significant rental income from property in Cleveland. Both false statements. In fact, Parker forged documents and presented them to the bank.
Parker is spending the next several years in a federal prison. United States District Court Judge R. Gary Klausner condemned Parker for presenting himself as a religious man and preying on the African American faith based community.
Security regulators consistently put affinity fraud in their yearly top ten lists of scams tactics. Faith based affinity schemes have hit the African American community hard in recent years. Using one’s religious affiliation establishes a false sense of security in the minds of victims.
Unfortunately religious affinity fraud is as old as the Bible. Most have heard the story from the Bible about Jesus driving the moneychangers from the Temple during his ministry because they had made it a “den of thieves.”
Two thousand years later, little has changed.
What can you do to protect yourself?
First, always perform your own due diligence no matter how trustworthy the promoter seems. Fraudsters use religion to shortcut the normal trust building process. When the person asking for your money starts quoting from the Bible, your defenses should go up, not down.
Second, remember the adage, “If it seems to good to be true, it probably is.” Parker’s investors should have been alarmed by claims of 40% rate of return in just 90 days.
Mahany & Ertl is a full service boutique law firm that assists victims of fraud recover their money. Our Milwaukee based asset recovery and fraud recovery lawyers have helped clients from Maine to Hawaii. We have successfully brought actions against lawyers, securities brokers and financial professionals for their negligence in a wide variety of frauds and investment schemes. From welfare benefit plans to Ponzi schemes to bad investment advice, we can help.
For a no obligation, no nonsense review of your case, contact Brian Mahany directly at (414) 704-6731 or through the firm’s website at https://www.mahanyertl.com