I may choose to ignore people who comment anonymously. I choose never to be anonymous online myself. I have little tolerance for this behavior.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mormons and Fraud -- Especially "Affinity Fraud"

Note: The Church recently added "Affinity Fraud" to its list of "Public Issues" in the Newsroom. (05/13/10)


A recent Salt Lake Tribune article details the prevalence of "affinity fraud" and how Utah Mormons are particularly suspect to it. Here are two passages:

Those characteristics make Mormons vulnerable to what regulators and government investigators label "affinity fraud" in which groups who through shared associations develop bonds of trust that can be easily exploited by con artists. Though other faiths are similarly vulnerable, that is particularly true in the insular Mormon culture of Utah.
"There's this notion that if you pay your tithing and do what you're supposed to do, the windows of heaven will be open to you and God will pour you out a blessing such that there's not room enough to receive it," said Keith Woodwell, a church member and director of the Division of Securities, the state's chief investigator of investment fraud. "So it's very easy for someone who has [fraud] as their motive to use that doctrine and say, 'Look, you're a member in good standing and you pay your tithing and you're entitled to be blessed.' "
In effect, people seem to think that they are entitled to decide how they are to be blessed and in what ways. People always seem to choose material "blessings" rather than something else. The view seems to be that those who God loves he gives money to.

What is even more disturbing is Returned Missionaries get sucked into these things.

Two fraud-related phenomenon particular to Utah and more so to Utah County are the recruitment of returned missionaries into what turn out to be illegal activities and the creation of investment programs based on multilevel marketing models.
Returned missionaries often come back with enhanced communications skills and thick skins but in recent years have been met with fewer employment options because of the recession, Baker said. Other young people also are caught up in scams when they are recruited to raise money for businesses, he said.
"You have this 18- to 25-year-old segment that frankly is being recruited as lieutenants and ultimately perpetrators or perpetuators of the fraud," he said.
He would like to see the church debrief missionaries about the dangers of being caught up in a fraudulent activities as they seek employment after their church service.
I am not going to comment on the Church ultimately declining to take an active role in the Fraud College being held to educate people about these problems and how to avoid them. I can think of many reasons why the Church could legitimately decline even though it supports the effort.

The points the article makes that should give us all pause are the following:

  • Mormons are particularly susceptible to affinity fraud
  • Fraud is a particular problem in Utah County and Utah County is largely composed of Mormons.
  • Returned missionaries are particularly susceptible to getting involved in fraudulent activities.
Perhaps "pause" is not the best choice of words. "Sobering" is a better choice.


Note: Affinity Fraud is now listed as a "Public Issue" in the L.D.S. Newsroom.

No comments:

Post a Comment