“What happened to all of that money?!” Man loses more than $260,000 in investment scheme

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- A trusted church deacon convinces a parishioner to invest thousands of dollars -- but this investment didn't lead to the promised returns. It's an example of why you shouldn't blindly trust people with your money.

"That`s what nobody knows. What happened to all of that money?" JP Whitehead said.

It's a question Whitehead asks himself often, when he tries to figure out how he lost more than $260,000 in an investment scheme.

"He was an elder, a deacon, teacher and even a preacher," Whitehead said.

He is William Spencer, an investment advisor who was also a member of Whitehead's church.

"I thought it was a blessing to have someone like that to handle what little money I had to do something with it," Whitehead said.

Spencer promised generous returns of 10 to 12 percent, and characterized each investment as a personal loan -- even writing letters to investors similar to an I-O-U -- but the notes were worthless.

"These victims were easy prey and Mr. Spencer could get what he wanted," U.S. Postal Inspector Larry Dodson said.

"He didn`t force me to do any of that stuff. I did it on my own, but I did it because of the trust I had in him," Whitehead said.

Postal inspectors say Whitehead's Ponzi scheme unraveled and 100 people lost more than $2 million.

It's prompted a warning from authorities: Never blindly trust anyone managing your money.

"When you`re going to invest, you need to trust and verify," Dodson said.

In the end, in this case, all of the money was gone.

"I can`t stick my head in the sand. I have to go on and try to overcome it the best I could," Whitehead said.

Spencer pleaded guilty to multiple charges of mail and wire fraud and is currently serving seven years in federal prison.

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