Pastor Denies to Help Track Investors in Evangelical-targeted Investment Scam

( [email protected] ) Jun 25, 2004 10:22 PM EDT

Although many well-known evangelists are cooperating to recover funds in an Ponzi-type investment scam, in which incoming investment money was used to pay off earlier investors, a prominent pastor has refused to help.

Rev. Ralph A. Wilkerson, the founder of Melodyland Christian Center in Anaheim, Ca., did not respond to receiver Dennis L. Roossien Jr., who requested for Wilkerson's help in tracking down people who invested in the scam through Wilkerson's nonprofit organization, Millennium Missions.

Wilkerson knew scam artist, George Earl Sester, with whom Wilkerson last year wrote an unpublished book titled "Making Million$ for Ministry: The Biblical Philosophy of Prosperity of Greg Setser," reported The Los Angeles Times. In the book, Sester named Wilkerson as an inspiration.

Sester headed IPIC International Inc., an import-export business that never existed. He promised investors they would make profit from the business. In actuality, he only used money from later investors to pay earlier investors which included high-profile evangelist who would endorse the investment. The scheme was heavily targeted at Christian evangelists.

According to Roossein, Millienium Missions and Wilkerson seemed to have lost money through IPIC.

"He could help a lot if he wanted to," said Dennis L. Roossien Jr., who has been appointed to oversee and receive the money lost in the investment scam.

Wilkerson's failure to cooperate is hampering the effort to recover the millions of dollars some investors lost, said Roossein. According to the court-appointed receiver, Wilkerson could help persuade people to give back their gains to help compensate those who lost money and also use his influence with other Christian leaders to help uncover profits federal investigators might not know about.

Several evangelists, including, Benny Hinn, Reinhard Bonnke, Marilyn Hickey, who all profited unwittingly from the scheme, have already returned the money to a compensation fund totaling $1.9 million, according to Roossein.

No formal charges have been made against Wilkerson.