MILWAUKEE -- Four people are behind bars -- convicted of preaching a lie. The group took tens of millions of dollars from churchgoers who never saw it coming.
"He would use the word of God to influence. He was greeting people and meeting people at church functions," said David Oakley, U.S. postal inspector.
"He" is Thomas Kimmel, and he would hold seminars on personal finances at various churches.
"Most people were parishioners of the church and it was a get out of debt seminar," said Oakley.
By the end of the meeting, Kimmel was soliciting investors for his "Sure Line Acceptance Corporation." With a guaranteed 12% return on investments, most investors felt they had nothing to lose.
"That should be a red flag for anybody who is a potential investor with a company or a business that is being solicited when they guarantee a rate of return," said Oakley.
Instead, he detailed how their principal was protected by collateral such as cars and car loans.
More than 100 victims lost $20 million.
"Some people will have to go back to work to try to get more money so they can retire," said Oakley.
Thomas Kimmel, the mastermind behind the scam, had three co-conspirators who testified against him in court. Kimmel received more than 20 years in prison and has been ordered to pay more than $16 million in restitution.