Utah has had more than it's share of affinity
fraud cases over the years. Authorities say that in the past year alone, more than
4,000 Utahns have lost over $1.5 billion due to fraud. In many cases, the
fraudsters engage in what is known as "affinity fraud" which refers
to any type of fraud involving the exploitation of a relationship of trust. We
naturally trust those we go to church with or those who are like us in some way
including ethnicity. If exploits that trust to commit fraud, it is referred to
using this phrase.
In Utah, the religious community provides an easy target for someone who wants
to commit fraud. As such, fraud perpetrators build trust among a group of
individuals in a social setting such as at church and then they exploit those
relationships by getting people to invest in bogus business opportunities.
Affinity fraud was involved in many fraud cases including Bernie Madoff's
famous $50 billion Ponzi scheme. In that case, the Jewish community was
exploited by Bernie.
Affinity fraud has been found in every religious community but also exists in
other communities such as racial or ethnic groups. A large Ponzi scheme in
Florida involved affinity fraud among the Haitian community. The deaf community
also has been exploited by fraud perpetrators who developed relationships of
trust and then exploited them to commit fraud.
Read the article in its entirety on Mark and Aaron
Zimbelman's blog, FraudBytes.