Religious leader steals from church-goers - CBS46 News

Religious leader steals from church-goers

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ATLANTA (CONSUMER ALERT) -

A church deacon stole millions from his church members in a ponzi scheme.

"That's what nobody knows, what happened to all of that money," said JP Whitehead, who lost more than $260,000 in the investment scheme.

Whitehead trusted William Spencer, a deacon and also an investment advisor.

"I thought it was a blessing to have someone like that to handle what little money I had to do something with it," said Whitehead.

Spencer promised generous returns of 10 to 12 percent and characterized each investment as a "personal loan." He even wrote IOU letters to investors, but the notes were worthless.

"These victims were easy prey and Mr. Spencer could get what he wanted," said Larry Dodson, a US postal inspector.

Dodson explained how Spencer's ponzi scheme unraveled and 100 people lost more than $2 million.

"When you're going to invest you need to trust and verify," said Dodson.

In the end, the victims lost everything they "invested" with their friend. All of the money was gone.

"I can't stick my head in the sand, I have to go on and try to overcome it the best I could," said Whitehead.

Spencer pleaded guilty to multiple charges of mail and wire fraud and is currently serving a six year sentence in federal prison.

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