Pastor who ran charity took advantage of those who trusted him
MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- He was a man of the cloth and the host of a TV show. He seemed like he could be trusted -- but authorities say he took advantage of the people who trusted him.
"They claimed they wanted to donate a couple of million dollars to his charity, but they needed him to send payments for them to file the appropriate paperwork to do this donation," U.S. Postal Inspector John Marsh said.
Pastor Samuel Solanky, who ran a charity called India At Our Doorsteps responded to the Nigerians making that offer by sending $50,000 of his own money.
"They kept saying 'we need you to pay us more in order for us to file the appropriate paperwork to give you $2 million,'" Marsh said.
Authorities say that's when Solanky came up with this scheme.
"He told people 'if you give me an investment, you`ll get a 100% return on your investment within three months, and I`m going to use your money to buy gemstones and diamonds in India and sell them to jewelry manufacturers in the U.S.,'" Marsh said.
However, there was no gemstone business. Thirty-five to 40 people lost about $3 million, and Solanky had connected with many of the victims through other ministers.
"One victim in particular, she lost $160,000. That was pretty much her life savings that she was to going to use to purchase a home for her and her family," Marsh said.
Postal inspectors say there is a lesson here.
"When someone promises you 100% return on an investment in three months, it`s very very unlikely that`s a legitimate investment," Marsh said.
Solanky never received the $2 million promised by the Nigerian con artists. Instead, he received a sentence of more than four years in prison on mail fraud charges.