Fake Missionary Accused of $30 Million Bible Scam Allegedly Used Money for Gambling, Gold, Diamonds, and More

The 45-year-old man is currently a fugitive, prosecutors said this week. Charges include money laundering and wire fraud.

a man in a mugshot and a bible
Images via U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Georgia & Getty/Tetra Images
a man in a mugshot and a bible

A fugitive is accused of orchestrating a $30 million bible scam spanning nearly a decade.

Starting around April 2010 and continuing until July 2019, prosecutors say 45-year-old Georgia man Jason Gerald Shenk “planned and executed” a scam involving money he received from faith-based charity groups and individuals in Ohio and North Carolina. Shenk, per a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of Georgia, is alleged to have told donors the money would go toward providing bibles and other “Christian literature” in China.

“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,” Jill E. Steinberg, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, said on Tuesday when announcing warrants for Shenk’s arrest. “This case alleges an egregious breach of that trust at the expense of multiple charities and individual donors.”

According to the indictment, available here, Shenk presented himself as a missionary when seeking donations. A “significant amount” of the money raised, however, ultimately went to an assortment of decidedly non-biblical purchases.

Among Shenk’s alleged high-dollar spendings are roughly $1 million in online sports gambling; 16 life insurances polices totaling about $4 million; approximately $1 million of diamonds, gold, and precious metals; and more.

Charges against Shenk include wire fraud, international concealment money laundering, concealment money laundering, money laundering involving transactions greater than $10,000, and failure to file report of foreign bank account.

To be fair, the bible itself doesn’t explicitly state that thou shalt not allegedly orchestrate a $30 million bible scam before becoming a fugitive and winding up in international headlines.

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