Tag Archive: Ponzi Scheme

Black Collar Crime: Megachurch Pastor Fred Shipman and His Son Caught in Alleged Ponzi Scheme

pastor whitney shipman

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Fred Shipman and his son Whitney, both pastors of Winners Church in West Palm Beach, Florida, are facing lawsuits that allege they were part of a ponzi scheme that bilked people out of millions of dollars.

Charisma News reports:

The pastor of a megachurch in West Palm Beach, Fla., is refusing to hand over $1.7 million despite claims by federal prosecutors that the funds belong to people caught up in a $30 million Ponzi scheme run by a former church director.

According to the Palm Beach Post, U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenberg ordered $1 million in assets belonging to Winners Church, a suburban congregation in West Palm Beach, and to church pastors Fred Shipman and Whitney Shipman frozen.

Those assets will remain frozen until Rosenberg issues a ruling on their disposition.

The dispute is part of the fallout from an alleged Ponzi scheme run by Canadian financial commentator Harold Seigel and Florida resident Jose Aman. The duo allegedly convinced hundreds of people to invest millions in Argyle Coin, LLC, which claimed to be a cryptocurrency business related to diamonds.

According to a dozen lawsuits recently filed in Florida and elsewhere, the men were actually running an elaborate scam. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced on Tuesday (May 21) it was shutting down the operation, describing it as a Ponzi scheme.

Some of their money turned up at Winners Church, which boasts a congregation of more than 2,000 and had listed Aman as a “director” on state records.

According to a new lawsuit, Aman gave $1 million to the church from 2014 to 2018 and gave church founder Bishop Fred Shipman $700,000. He also allegedly gave Fred Shipman’s son, Winners Church senior pastor Whitney Shipman, around $40,000 during that same time period.

On Thursday, Amie Berlin, an attorney for the SEC, told U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenberg that the church and the Shipmans should return the funds, given that the SEC can retrieve money for victims of the scheme.

But Carl Schoeppl, the lawyer representing the Shipmans and the church, argued Winners Church can’t be forced to turn over the money because it’s a nonprofit religious institution.

He pointed to a Florida statute that allows religious organizations to accept funds “received in good faith,” noting that neither the church nor the Shipmans were aware of Aman’s operation.

Bishop Shipman has called the funds “God’s blessings” and told the judge that giving them up would have “a ripple effect in everything we do from this point on.”

Lawyers for the U.S. government argue federal law supersedes the state-level statute, although churches have been spared incidentally in the past from different clawback situations.

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Black Collar Crime: Pastor Colin Davids Accused of Running a Ponzi Scheme

pastor colin davids

Colin Davids, pastor of New Dimension Church in Cape Town, South Africa, was accused in 2015 of running a ponzi scheme that bilked investors out of millions of dollars. In October 2015, IOL reported:

A Cape Town pastor accused of running a multi-million rand ponzi scheme will not be getting access to R290 000 [conversion rate 1 U.S. dollar = 13 Rand] of his seized funds each month, the Western Cape High Court has ruled.

Colin Davids, the CEO of foreign currency trading company Platinum Forex, had requested R90 000 for family expenses and R200 000 for legal fees a month.

ut on Friday Judge Siraj Desai refused the application, saying Davids had yet to explain how R500 million disappeared from the company’s account two months ago, according to an Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) statement.

Desai said R90 000 per month was not considered reasonable for a family of six, reports Weekend Argus.

Davids could also not explain how he had calculated the R200 000 per month for legal costs, the judge found.

In July, the AFU seized assets worth R138 million from Platinum Forex.

Davids, who is a pastor at the New Direction Grace Church in Parow Industria, is being investigated for allegedly:

* Running a company that is not lawfully allowed to provide financial services

* Using investors’ funds for his own benefit, including the purchase of multi-million rand homes in Plattekloof and Hermanus, as well as two BMWs and a Jaguar F-Type V8 S convertible.

* Making false promises to the public, claiming that “investments” would yield interest returns of up to 84 percent.

* Using funds received from investors to pay other members.

Davids claimed his monthly expenses amount to R89 779, including R10 000 for entertainment, R15 000 for groceries and toiletries for a family of six, R2 000 for his daughters, tuition fees for his younger children, and installments for vehicles.

However, Judge Desai found that Davids had failed to make full disclosure of all property and to provide a sworn statement of assets and liabilities.

He referred to the AFU’s submission that less than R2 million remained in Platinum Forex’s Nedbank account when the curator took control of it, after more than R500 million had been deposited between August last year and June this year.

Desai added that the lack of disclosure made it difficult, “if not impossible”, for the court to find in Davids’ favour.

Last week, a South African court ordered Davids to pay back millions of dollars to investors. The Daily Voice reports:

A Cape Flats pastor accused of running a multi-million ponzi scheme has lost his first round in court after a judge ordered that R100 million in funds be handed back to his “investors”.

Colin Davids, the director of Platinum Forex Group, faces charges of fraud, contravention of the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act (FAIS), for which he was not registered or licensed to perform.

The New Direction Church pastor, aged 49, is said to have run a scheme where investors were promised impossibly high returns, and were repaid with investments from newcomers.

According to an auditor’s report, a total sum of R329m went into Davids’ accounts from over 2 000 investors between November 2009 to July 2015.

Last July, the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) seized assets worth R138m from Platinum Forex.

On Thursday, the Cape Town High Court said that of the over R300m that was initially invested in his company, only about R100m remains, and ruled that a curator oversee the process of distributing frozen funds to investors.

In the ruling, the judge conveyed his sympathy to investors who had simply wanted a good return on their hard-earned money, he further thanked them for their patience and warned the general public to be wary of similar schemes.

The Judge also praised the AFU for their work on the case.

According to the Hawks, investigations against Davids by the Serious Commercial Crime Unit are currently ongoing and are at an advanced stage.

Davids remains out on a R100 000 bail after he was arrested in June 2016 on charges of contravening the FAIS Act and Banks Act.

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The controversial pastor owns two multi-million rand homes, a luxurious mansion in Plattekloof and another house in Hermanus, and several luxury cars.

However, in September last year, Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Leonardo Goosen said the scheme run by Davids was “hopelessly insolvent” and that the accused had been trading recklessly.