SANTA ANA (CNS) - An attorney helping to recover money for alleged victims of a Ponzi scheme linked to a storefront Westminster church today called on potential investors to come forward.
The attorneys helping the federal government in recovering money from the church have asked alleged victims to go to their website at http://www.donlinrecano.com/receivership to receive information on how to recover their investments in a trust for the Texas-based Church for the Healthy Self.
The Securities and Exchange Commission filed fraud charges and an asset freeze action against the operators of the Church for the Healthy Self March 13.
Kent R.E. Whitney founded the church just a few months after he was released from federal prison for a prior investment commodities fraud scheme, according to the SEC.
Investors in the church's trust were promised returns of at least 12 percent that were tax deductible, guaranteed and insured, according to the SEC.
Whitney and Pastor David Lee Parrish “are running at least a $25 million Ponzi scheme targeting primarily the Vietnamese community of Orange County,” the SEC alleged in its complaint.
The church principally operates out of a strip mall at 14082 Magnolia St. in Westminster.
The investors were told that the church's trust “was able to generate high returns -- as high as 43 percent annually -- with `minimal to no risk' by investing their funds in the reinsurance industry,” according to the SEC complaint.
“Whitney assured investors they would only lose money in the event of a `nuclear war,' “ the complaint alleges.
Whitney and Parrish took the investor money and “paid their personal expenses and paid Ponzi payments to investors -- satisfying investors' liquidation requests with recent deposits of new investors,” the SEC alleges.
Attorney Kyra Andrassy of the firm attempting to recover the investors' funds said, “We're in the really early stages of the case.”
Andrassy is concerned that the church still has its website live online.
“We really want to get the word out that this is a scam,” Andrassy said.
There could be up to 400 investors, mostly Vietnamese in Orange County and San Jose, Andrassy said.
“We think about $40 million has been invested,” she said. “There appear to be few legitimate investments.”