Self-proclaimed pastor gets 8 years for fraud

Claimed that $55 investment would return $154,000 in just a few months

Benjamin J. Seigler claimed to have earned $40 million as a solo investor. He told clients he had “more gold chains than Mr. T,” bought mansions and owned 10 cars.

But the truth was that Seigler lived in a small apartment, had no income and himself had been swindled by the same scheme he had perpetrated on others – 5,600 others. In a span of just six months, Seigler collected more than $1.4 million.

On Wednesday, a federal judge sentenced Seigler to eight years in federal prison and ordered him to repay every dime.

Seigler, 43, of Pall Mall Street, pleaded guilty earlier to four counts of mail fraud, admitting that he stole the funds by soliciting investments that came to him through the mail.

The government seized about $1.3 million from Seigler and will be able to immediately repay about 92 percent of the victims. Seigler will be obligated to repay the rest when he gets out of prison.

One of Seigler’s earliest investors was Chandra Anand of Germantown, Md. Anand said this week that he learned of Seigler’s opportunity through a friend in Seattle.

Anand phoned in on one of Seigler’s twice-daily conference calls in October 2007 and was hooked on the idea of a quick, high-yield return. An investment of as little as $55 would return $154,000 in just a few months. Seigler called the earnings “blessings” and frequently invoked scripture in his sales pitches.

“God will give us all the blessings next month,” Anand recalled hearing Seigler say during one of the calls.

Anand, who owns a marketing company, sank nearly $16,000 into Seigler’s “Global Pension Insurance Trust.” But none of it ever was invested. Seigler hoarded the money in a local credit union.

Seigler’s lawyer, John Fletcher, asked the judge for leniency, citing his client’s assistance in collecting the names of the 5,600 victims and the amounts owed each person.

– Source: Self-proclaimed pastor gets 8 years for fraud, Tim McGlone, The Virginian-Pilot, Feb. 26, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Fake pastor admits he bilked others of $1.4M

The scam
Benjamin J. Seigler admits he scammed 4,000 investors by saying he was putting their money into a program called “Global Pension Plan” or “Global Pension Investment Trust.” Instead, he kept the money and piled up cash at his apartment.

The pitch
Seigler would use daily conference calls to reel in investors. “I had more gold chains than Mr. T had ,” he said in a March 5 call, as cited in the indictment. Authorities say Seigler took about $1.4 million from investors from October 2007 to March.

The plea
Seigler pleaded guilty Thursday to four counts of mail fraud. He faces up to 20 years in prison for each count. He will be sentenced in February. The government says it will repay as many victims as possible with $1.2 million it seized from Seigler.

– Source: Fake pastor admits he bilked others of $1.4M, Tim McGlone, The Virginian-Pilot, Oct. 3, 2008 — Summarized by Religion News Blog
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Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday February 28, 2009.
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