It is a fact of human nature that most people are quickest to trust "one of their own." In too many cases, someone sitting in a church pew implicitly trusts the person sitting right next to him. After all, if they are side by side in prayer, why worry about doing business?

Tell that to the 11,000 investors who lost more than half a BILLION dollars to the Southern Baptist Foundation in a scheme that went on for decades.

Or tell it to the members of Crossroads Church in Corona, California, who kissed a combined $50 million goodbye.

Or those who lost $3 million to a real estate scam perpetrated on members of the Daystar Assembly of God Church in Prattville, Alabama. (Members of the church were promised that profits would go to build a megachurch, but all they got was a megascam.)

Or tell it to the thousands who were defrauded of $500 million dollars by the leaders of Tampa-based Greater Ministries International -- who claimed that investments were blessed by the Lord.

It's not unusual for the con to begin with the fraudster making a sizeable donation and weaseling his way into the inner circle. Then he gets the Pastor to invest, and that swings open the doors to members of the congregation.

All denominations are at risk, but investigators will tell you that the most susceptible communities are the ones with the most active members. If a church has many service programs and small group prayer sessions, con artists can more easily get close to and become friends with their fellow church goers. Sadly, these one way friendships sometimes extend beyond the fraud. "Let's not report Brother Bob to the police. We all know that he is too devout to do anything dishonest, so this must have just been an unfortunate error."

Here's some websites:

Scams Use Name of God to Con Christians - USA Today
Trinity Foundation
Securities Administrators Association