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An investigation into affinity fraud and the role religion can play

Utah has seen a recent rash of serious and expensive white-collar crime. In just the past seven years, the state has ordered companies and individuals to pay back more than $204 million to victims of securities schemes, and untold millions more have been lost in cases not prosecuted.

KSL News investigated the role of what's called "affinity fraud." In many cases, that means the cost of mixing faith and fortune.

The pitch sounds perfect: a low-risk investment that can lead to a better lifestyle. It might sound too good to be true, but what if someone you trust--at work or in your church--tells you it is OK? Too many Utahns have learned the answer to that question the hard way.

Some Utah investors thought they were buying a piece of paradise they could enjoy and use to make money.

...For a year and a half, Coons received his promised interest payments. The steady money convinced him to invest that second and third time, but then the checks stopped.

Reber, on the other hand, says he never saw a dime.

Both men think their money may be gone for good. Looking back, both men blame themselves.

"They work off personal relationships where there's a trust. And I called it, you know, 'Mormons stealing from Mormons,'" Reber says.

He and Coons both belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When they learned the project salesmen they were dealing with, and many others in the sales company were also LDS, the men dropped their guard.

Read the rest of this story at ksl.com
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