Armand DeAngelis and his wife Marcela Ospina Cardona from Miami, Florida, were charged this week for allegedly conning up to $5 million from Christians by selling gold coins for two or three times their worth.
The couple apparently owned a company that sold gold coins, calling itself ''the leading Christian gold dealer." The company claimed its coins would double or triple their value in a matter of months, based on the judgment of another company the couple owned.
According to the Miami Herald, "'From in or around March 2000 through in or around June 2003, the defendants raised over $5 million through the sale of supposedly rare gold coins worldwide."
The couple took out ads in Christian magazines including World, The American Prospect, Christianity Today, Pulpit Helps, and Christian Parenting Today. Respondents to the ads were told "of an alleged impending financial crisis facing the economy while touting the purported benefits of investing in gold," the Herald said.
The couple raised more than $5 million between March 2000 and June 2003. They live in a $3.5 million home. DeAngelis is scheduled for an unrelated hearing for the violation of probation following a 1991 securities-law conviction in New Jersey, according to the Miami Herald.
One customer bought a set of four coins for $3,560, when the coins were actually worth $37.50. The defense attorney told the Herald that the value of investment coins is subjective.
An attorney for one of the plaintiffs in the case told the Associated Press that DeAngelis "has done awful, awful things to people from all over the country. He pretends to be a born-again Christian."
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