Monroe Beachy, ‘Amish Madoff,’ charged with bilking church members out of $15 million in fraud
Monroe Beachy, 77, sold $33 million in investment contracts to more than 2,600 investors – most of them from his Amish community in Sugarcreek, Ohio – but lost nearly half of it in a massive fraud that echoed fallen Manhattan financier Bernard Madoff‘s infamous Ponzi scheme, the SEC said.
Beachy began raising money in 1986 and told investors that he was buying low-risk government securities that would generate safe returns.
In reality, Beachy was involved in high-stakes stock-market gamble and sank his church members’ money in to stocks, mutual funds, junk bonds and even dot-coms, according to the compliant.
Along the way, the Amish hustler provided investors with quarterly statements showing phony returns, and built a reputation as a financial wizard whose fund, known as A&M Investments, performed better than most banks.
Amish parents encouraged their kids to invest, and schools, churches and other community groups in the quiet, horse-and-buggy community poured money into Beachy’s fund, according to The Washington Post.
But it all came crashing down in June of last year when the fraudster filed for bankruptcy and finally came clean with investors. Less than $18 million remained in the fund, according to the agency.
When he admitted the fraud, “everybody sort of stopped in their tracks and was sort of shaken and taken aback,” Emery Miller, a 51-year-old chicken and dairy farmer who invested with Beachy, told the Post.