Taking advantage of the giving spirit
U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia has charged a man from Dublin, Georgia with dozens of counts related to his defrauding people out of over $30 million and using about $1 million of that to bet on sports online.
In the indictment unsealed this week, 45-year-old Jason Gerald Shenk has been charged with (quoting this from the press release because it’s a lot): “four counts of Wire Fraud; three counts of International Concealment Money Laundering; 13 counts of Concealment Money Laundering; 21 counts of Money Laundering Involving Transactions Greater than $10,000; and one count of Failure to File Report of Foreign Bank Account.”
Make sure you get him on that failure to file a report of a foreign bank account.
Shenk’s scheme sounds shockingly simple. He solicited donations – gathering more than $30 million – from faith-based charities and individuals, promising to use that money to print and distribute Bibles and Christian literature in China. Naturally, he never did any such thing.
Instead, Shenk spent $1 million on internet sports betting, bought $850,000 in shares in a nuclear energy company, bought $1 million worth of diamonds, gold, and precious metals, paid $7 million to the company that runs his family farm, purchased $4 million in life insurance policies under multiple people’s names, spent more than $820,000 on ten different credit cards, and more.
“When people of faith donate money for evangelistic purposes, they reasonably expect those who solicit their donations to act as faithful stewards of those funds,” said U.S. Attorney Jill Steinberg in Tuesday’s press release. “This case alleges an egregious breach of that trust at the expense of multiple charities and individual donors.”
The indictment states that Shenk bilked two charities out of money, one for $22 million and another for $10 million. The government did not specify how much he stole from individuals (though, of course, individuals donated to the charities). Shenk routed the money to several shell companies around the world, including in Singapore, Hong Kong, North Carolina, and Georgia.
Shenk ran the scheme from April 2010 to July 2019. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, he renounced his American citizenship in 2016 to try to get around financial reporting requirements.
Though Shenk has been charged with the above litany of crimes, he is not in custody and warrants have been issued for his arrest. He faces up to 20 years in prison plus a score of financial penalties.