Winans Alleged Ponzi Scheme Swindled Millions from Churchgoers
Officials state that the Winans gospel-music family led a multimillion-dollar
fraudulent investment program promoting fake oil bonds from Saudi Arabia.
Although the alleged scheme probably ceased sometime around 2008, the Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation uncovered the scam earlier this year. Shortly thereafter, a cease-and-desist order was issued.
Michael Winans Jr. told investors that they could double their money in 60 days. Detroit police identified and interviewed at least 180 investors, but state regulators say that the actual number is higher.
Investigators allege that Michael Winans Jr. orchestrated securities fraud that resulted in hundreds of hardworking Detroit residents losing millions of dollars. Unscrupulously promising high guaranteed returns, the gospel group supposedly stole millions from its unsuspecting flock of devoted, church-going followers.
Reports indicate that the Ponzi scheme was worth at least $2.6 million, but could have been as high as $11 million. Winans are believed to have used church connections to draw investors starting in early 2007.
The Winans have been unavailable for comments and seem to have gone missing. Phone numbers linked to Michael Winans Jr.’s address in the Detroit area ring with no answer. Numbers listed for Winans’ music publishing company in Detroit have been disconnected.
State regulators have found that Winans and associates violated the state's Uniform Securities Act. Violators of this act face a maximum penalty of $25,000 per violation, and possibly ten years in prison. Investigations have now been turned over to local and federal law enforcement agencies.