Minister betrays followers, steals millions

By Jodi Mohrmann, Managing editor of special projects, jmohrmann@wjxt.com
Published On: Jan 24 2014 03:36:00 PM EST
Updated On: Jan 25 2014 09:30:00 AM EST

He was a man of the cloth and the host of a TV show.  But authorities say he betrayed those who trusted him, by stealing millions of dollars.

"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," explained US Postal Inspector John Marsh.

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.

"But they kept saying we need you to pay us more in order for us to file the appropriate paperwork to give you $2 million," said Marsh.

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 percent 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.," said Marsh.

But, there was no gemstone business. 35 to 40 people lost about $3 million. Solanky had connected with many of the victims through other ministers.

"One victim in particular, she lost 160 Thousand Dollars. That was pretty much her life savings that she was to going to use to purchase a home for her and her family," explained Marsh.

Postal inspectors say there is a lesson here.

"When someone promises you 100 percent return on an investment in three months, it's very very unlikely that's a legitimate investment," warned Marsh.

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.

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