Church deacon bilked investors out of millions

By Jodi Mohrmann, Managing editor of special projects, jmohrmann@wjxt.com
Published On: Apr 15 2014 04:25:16 PM EDT
Updated On: Apr 16 2014 06:20:00 AM EDT

Millions of dollars gone in a Ponzi scheme none of the victims saw coming. It's because the person who scammed them was a deacon in their church.

"That's what nobody knows, what happened to all of that money?" said victim JP Whitehead.

He asks himself that question often when he tries to figure out how he lost more than $260,000 in an investment scheme.

"He was an elder, a deacon, teacher and even a preacher," added Whitehead.

Whitehead is referring to William Spencer, an investment adviser, who was also a member of Whitehead's church.

"I thought it was a blessing to have someone like that to handle what little money I had to do something with it," Whitehead added.

Investigators say Spencer promised generous returns of 10 to 12 percent  and characterized each investment as a "personal loan".  He would even write letters to investors, similar to IOUs, but the notes were worthless.

"These victims were easy prey and Mr. Spencer could get what he wanted," explained Retired U.S. Postal Inspector Larry Dodson.

"He didn't force me to do any of that stuff, I did it on my own, but I did it because of the trust I had in him," admitted Whitehead.

Postal inspectors say Spencer's Ponzi scheme unraveled and 100 people lost more than $2 million.

In the end, in this case, all the money was gone.

"I can't stick my head in the sand, I have to go on and try to overcome it the best I could," said Whitehead.

Spencer did plead guilty to multiple charges of mail and wire fraud. He is currently serving a 6 year sentence in federal prison.

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