Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Corvallis man indicted for defrauding churchgoers

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A Corvallis man has been indicted for fraud after allegedly scamming his coworkers and fellow churchgoers under the false pretense of supporting Christian groups.

The Oregon District of the U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday that 50-year-old Erik J. Hass is facing charges under a federal grand jury indictment including five counts of wire fraud, two counts of mail fraud, and one count of money laundering.

In 2013, Hass founded Simply Gains Inc., which claimed to support Christian missionaries and organizations while offering significant returns for investors, according to the indictment.

The indictment further accuses Hass of asking peers to invest in the organization through self-directed IRAs, Roth IRAs and cash accounts. In exchange, according to court documents, he’d give investors unsecured promissory notes and promised “monthly interest rate gain around 1.5-2% compounding to approximately 25%-30% per year.”

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Hass, according to court documents, used the money he collected to invest in the foreign exchange market (also known as forex).

Although allegedly saying he’d only profit if monthly returns were more than 2%, Hass is said to have taken a salary from his investors’ funds from the beginning. To further cover the scheme, Hass allegedly sent his investors bogus email statements with their monthly interest gained and account balance, in addition to sending fake IRS 1099-INT forms.

The indictment accuses Hass of continuing the plot through 2018, creating a Ponzi scheme. At least 20 investors claim they lost a total of over $1 million to Hass.

Hass is scheduled to make his initial appearance in federal court on July 1 before Judge Michael McShane.

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