Consumer Alert: Pastor scams people out of millions in gem scheme

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - He was a man of the cloth and the host of a television show, but authorities say he betrayed those who trusted him by stealing millions.

U.S. Postal Inspectors say Pastor Samuel Solanky came up with a scheme to bilk people out of millions of dollars.

"He told people if you give me an investment, you'll get a 100 percent return on your investment within three months. And I'm going to use your money to buy gemstones and diamonds in India and sell them to jewelry manufacturers in the U.S.," says U.S. Postal Inspector John Marsh.

There was no gemstone business. 35 to 40 people lost about $3 million. Solanky had connected with many of the victims through other ministers.

"One victim in particular, she lost $160,000," says Marsh. "That was pretty much her life savings that she was to going to use to purchase a home for her and her family."

Postal Inspectors say there is a lesson here.

"When someone promises you 100% return on an investment in three months, it's very, very unlikely that's a legitimate investment," says Marsh.

Solanky received four years in prison on mail fraud charges.

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