Ponzi schemer who targeted Christians receives 10-year jail term

A Ponzi schemer who targeted Christians in Raleigh for three years has received a 10-year federal prison sentence and has been ordered to pay restitution to the victims on Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

(REUTERS / Mohamed Abd El Ghany)A man counts U.S dollars at a money exchange office in central Cairo, Egypt December 27, 2016.

Ronald Earl McCullough, 45, was already indicted years ago in a Ponzi scheme which targeted Christians but had only been arrested in July last year. He had been running from authorities since he was slapped with a set of charges including fraud and unlawful monetary transactions from January 2009 to May 2012, WRAL details.

The Raleigh resident had pretended to be a religious leader to convince people to invest at least $1 million in what was described as an exclusive foreign exchange group, promising the victims high returns within 30 days. Based on bank records, he and his partner shelled out more than $800,000 on cars, homes and clothes and lost $400,000 of the people's money in trading.

McCullough's partner David Christopher Mayhew, on the other hand, was given a 26-year jail term in January 2016 for his participation in the Ponzi scheme.

Stuart Bruce, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, said one of their victims lost his home in the fraud. Two other investors who were planning to purchase property were forced to cancel the transaction because their life savings vanished in the scheme, The News & Observer reports.

Aside from handing McCullough a 10-year federal prison sentence, U.S. District Court Judge Terrence W. Boyle also required him to pay restitution worth $1,726,400 to his victims, said Bruce.

John Strong, the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Charlotte, released a statement saying McCullough had lived a lavish lifestyle for several years using the money he bilked out of his victims. Once the fraud was blown out in the open, he chose to evade authorities instead of face the consequences of his actions.

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