A Colorado pastor is now facing civil charges after allegedly stealing $1.3 million from his congregation. According to the Colorado Division of Securities, the charges were announced against the pastor and his wife on January 18.
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Here’s How The Colorado Pastor & His Wife Allegedly Scammed Their Congregation
According to the entity, a civil complaint was filed against Eligio and Kaitlyn Regalado on January 16. The Colorado Attorney General’s Office filed the complaint. However, the Colorado Securities Commissioner, Tung Chang, initiated the charges against the couple.
Chang alleges that the couple “created, marketed, and sold” their own cryptocurrency, “INDXcoin.” They also created and controlled an online cryptocurrency exchange to promote the product.
The couple reportedly promoted their cryptocurrency as a “low-risk, high-profit investment.” Between June 2022 and April 2023, authorities believe the Regalados raked in almost $3.2 million from their congregation.
Additionally, they left members with a “practically worthless” investment and “dissipated investor funds to support their lavish lifestyle.”
“We allege that Mr. Regalado took advantage of the trust and faith of his own Christian community and that he peddled outlandish promises of wealth to them when he sold them essentially worthless cryptocurrencies,” Commissioner Chan stated, per the press release from the Colorado Division of Securities. “New coins and new exchanges are easy to create with open source code. We want to remind consumers to be very skeptical.”
According to SUNY Oswego, a cryptocurrency is a digital currency that functions through a virtual accounting system. The currency is not regulated by banks and “tend to be uninsured.”
Eli Regalado Opens Up About The Scheme
According to NBC News, the Regalados pocketed $1.3 million out of the $3.2 million earned. Additionally, authorities believe the couple used the funds “for their own personal benefit.”
Eligio Regalado reportedly confirmed authorities’ accusation in a video message shared via the cryptocurrency’s platform earlier this week.
“Out of the $1.3 [million], half a million dollars went to the IRS, and a few hundred thousand dollars went to a home remodel the Lord told us to do,” the pastor reportedly explained, per NBC News.
The outlet also notes that the couple spent their money on lavish items. This reportedly includes a “Range Rover, luxury handbags, jewelry, an au pair, boat rentals, and snowmobile adventures.”
Despite the alleged scheme, Regalado still believes in a “miracle” for himself and his followers.
“We took God at his word and sold a cryptocurrency with no clear exit,” Regalado explained in his video statement, per NBC News. “What we’re believing for still is that God is going to do a miracle. God is going to work a miracle in the financial sector.”
Eligio “Eli” Regalado, a online pastor was charged in CO for a $1.3 million crypto scam. He’s released a 9-minute-long video explaining that the Lord told him to sell a cryptocurrency with no clear exit”, and spend some of the proceeds on “a home remodel the Lord told us to do”.… pic.twitter.com/9AEkkQ9yYA
— Bob Mather Poker (@BobMatherPoker) January 21, 2024
According to the outlet, his congregation has left comments under the clip via his platform. Like Regalado, many of them also believe God will “turn the situation around.”
NBC News adds that prosecutors hit the Regalados with multiple civil charges. This reportedly includes “securities fraud,” “unlicensed broker-dealer activity and “selling unregistered securities and imposition of constructive trust.”
According to PEOPLE, the couple will appear in the Denver District Court next week.