SEC Claims Amish Man Scammed His Own Community For $33 Million
According to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), a 77 year old Amish man named Monroe Beachy raised some $33 million from some 2,600 investors in his own community over 25 years in a scheme similar to Ponzi or Bernard Madoff. Mr. Beachy had a 10th grade education and his personal assets included a horse, buggy and a harness. After taking courses at H&R Block he built up such trust that he became the treasurer of the Amish Helping Fund, a non-profit that takes money from investors and makes loans “in an effort to preserve the Amish way of life,” which entrusted him with $2.6 million and also secured investments from the Mennonite Church. The investors were told that their money would be used to purchase risk free U.S. government securities.
Apparently Beachy issued periodic statements to investors showing fabricated gains. In 2010 everything came unwound for Mr. Beachy when he filed for personal bankruptcy after he allegedly put all the money in speculative investments, leaving less than $18 million of the original $33 million invested. Because of the length of the scheme, generations of Amish families were affected. Even as early as 1998, he was reportedly insolvent but he continued to solicit investments from new investors so he could provide returns to earlier victims.