Utah: fraud capital USA. Déjà vu all over again?

May 10, 2019, 5:46 PM

Heber City Police warn of new scam in Wasatch County, Consumer advocates are warning about stimulus...

Holidays scams rise this time of year, warn officials Photo: Shutterstock

Once again,* Utah is labeled the fraud capital of the U.S.

According to Ponzitracker.com, despite ranking 31st in population, Utah had the sixth-highest number of Ponzi schemes from 2008 to 2018, which is likely attributable at least in part to the state’s large Latter-day Saints population, which has been a hotbed for affinity fraud.

In affinity fraud, scammers are members or pretend to be members of the same groups, such as religious or ethnic communities, language minorities, the elderly and others.

Salt Lake attorney Mark Pugsley found Utah had 1.35 Ponzi schemes per 100,000 people. A distant second, Florida had 0.51 per 100,000 people. Utah residents were cheated out of $1.5 billion in those 10 years. If all other scams were included, Pugsley says, that adds $500 million more in losses for Utahns.

Utahns: too trusting or too gullible?

On Friday’s JayMac News Show, Ethan Millard and Todd Fooks examined this question.

“In our community, it’s a positive thing to give and receive trust quickly,” said Millard, who works in finance and has a securities license. “That’s part of our unique cultural makeup. And that’s not going away. That’s where our vulnerability is.”

“We’re especially vulnerable to people who prey on our loyalties,” Fooks added. “Essentially, you’re being nice and that’s one way you get caught” by a scammer. “You’re doing it as a favor” for this person who betrays the trust.

How do Utahns guard themselves against fraud?

Millard, who helps people invest every day, has some recommendations to follow:

  • Stick to reputable companies in the public market.
  • Go through a well-known bank or brokerage.
  • Don’t write a check to an individual person.
  • Get a second opinion.
  • Don’t invest privately unless you have millions to spend.
  • Pay a lawyer to do the due diligence.
  • Don’t take the risk unless you can afford to take the loss.

“And if the person asking you to invest can’t provide the documentation to your lawyer, run away.”

It’s possible to make a lot of money, he said, but you’ve got to protect yourself, so invest in the due diligence.

“It’s going to be hard writing that check [for an independent, due-diligence expert], but you could save yourself your life savings.”

* The Wall Street Journal named Salt Lake City the “Fraud Capital of America” in 2015. * 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.


Image of Utah's Morning News host Amanda Dickson and colleague Kate Davis, who says she is grateful...

Amanda Dickson

Dickson: Social media and the importance of the radio community

Unlike social media, radio is one of the few experiences that offers everybody listening the same information at the same time.

3 days ago

Deedee Corradini, the former Salt Lake City mayor, was instrumental in getting the Olympics to Utah...

Amanda Dickson

Dickson: Remembering Deedee Corradini after the Olympics news today

Former Salt Lake City Mayor Deedee Corradini was instrumental in getting the Olympics. She would be ecstatic to see them again.

9 days ago

President M. Russell Ballard might have been losing his vision himself, but he never stopped inviti...

Boyd Matheson

Boyd Matheson: President M. Russell Ballard inviting all to “come and see!”

President M. Russell Ballard spent his life inviting people to "come and see."

22 days ago

The KSL Movie Show reviews"The Holdovers" and says it might be one of your favorite movies....

Steve Salles

KSL Movie Show review: ‘The Holdovers’ is your new seasonal anthem

"The Holdovers" could easily become the next film you watch every holiday season with your family.

1 month ago

The KSL Movie Show review gives "Priscilla" a B grade for its truth despite being ugly....

Steve Salles

KSL Movie Show review: ‘Priscilla’ isn’t pretty, but it rings true

If you're looking for a pretty movie, this isn't it. The latest KSL Movie Show review gives "Priscilla" a B grade. It's ugly, but true.

1 month ago

Image of Gavin Zachary Valdez was born at Primary Children's Hospital on June 11, 2007. He died not...

Amie Schaeffer

Schaeffer: A letter of thanks to Primary Children’s Hospital

Sixteen years ago Primary Children's Hospital cared for a new mom and her preemie son who later passed away.

2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Human hand holding a protest banner stop vaping message over a crowded street background....

Prosperous Utah Communities

Utah’s Battle to Protect Youth from Vaping Epidemic Faces New Threat as Proposed Rule Threatens Progress

Utah's strict standards of nicotine levels in vaping products are at risk, increasing health hazards associated with use. Read more about how you can advocate for a better future for Utah's youth.

Utah: fraud capital USA. Déjà vu all over again?