Blind Faith Can Be Costly

Fredia, she got scammed by her pastor CBS

In Beaumont, Texas, more than a hundred Baptists -- like Frieda Jackson -- invested in faith.

And were fleeced in the name of God -- by a man of God.

"I'm like, OK. I'm helping him, I'm helping my church, I'm helping myself," said Fredia Jackson.

Helping their church was like giving to God. And as in most churches, the pastor there held a special trust.

"I lost $110,000. Me and my wife together," Ollie Green told CBS News Correspondent Mark Strassmann.

Reverend Ronald Randolph's investment scheme promised huge returns trading plastics worldwide.

It was a con. And he went to prison after swindling his flock out of $3.5 million.

"I'm talking about a Christian man hiding behind a bible. No, it's hard to forgive," Green said.

"It's right on the dollar bill -- 'In God We Trust' -- but sometimes a con comes wrapped inside religion and the faithful want to believe so strongly, they don't ask enough questions. And they get burned."

Beaumont's fraud was small -- compared to the Baptist Foundation of Arizona, which promised to build churches.

This scam cost 20,000 victims almost $600 million.

In Florida, another bogus investment scheme cost churchgoers $19 million.

All they got in return was an apology.

Prosecuting these sinners is often difficult.

"People are very reluctant to blow the whistle on someone that they see as a spiritual leader," said Susan Wyderko, of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In any investment, experts say ask questions, demand proof.

The Beaumont congregation now knows blind faith is costly.

"All of their retirement, all of their life's savings, it's just sickening. It really is sickening," said Jackson. "Beware of wolves in sheep's clothing."

Wolves with a nose for true believers.

  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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