Crime

North Texan used religion to rope in Christian investors, steal millions, officials say

Giving fraud a bad name: The Ponzi scheme

Charles Ponzi didn’t invent his eponymous pyramid scheme — but he lent star power to one of the oldest scams in the book. He also believed that his plan could have become a legitimate business.
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Charles Ponzi didn’t invent his eponymous pyramid scheme — but he lent star power to one of the oldest scams in the book. He also believed that his plan could have become a legitimate business.

A North Texas religious radio host and financial adviser was indicted Tuesday on charges of stealing millions of dollars from senior citizens in an investment scheme.

William Neil “Doc” Gallagher, who is from North Richland Hills, is charged with engaging in a multimillion dollar fraud through his company, Gallagher Financial Group.

From December 2014 through January 2019, he raised at least $19.6 million from about 60 senior citizens, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said in a press release. He falsely claimed to be a licensed investment adviser and promised investors they would receive guaranteed, risk-free returns in their accounts.

In reality, he did not invest any of the money people gave him and has not been a registered broker-dealer since 2001. Instead, Gallagher spent investors’ money for personal and business expenses, including making Ponzi payments to investors. A Ponzi scheme is a form of fraud that pays profits to earlier investors with funds from more recent investors.

Gallagher regularly referenced religion in his radio shows to target retired Christian investors, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said in the press release. He also wrote the book, “Jesus Christ, Money Master.”

Gallagher is a host on three radio shows, including a Christian talk show, and his programs were aired as recently as last weekend, according to a federal complaint filed against Gallagher. In one recorded show from 2015, Gallagher referenced the biblical need to “have a vision” for one’s money and urged people to invest with his company to protect their assets.

“Everybody is after your money,” he said in the show. “If you don’t have written financial goals for your life, someone else does.”

In January alone, Gallagher raised at least $500,000 from new and existing investors, according to the federal complaint.

On March 8, Gallagher Financial Group, Inc.’s assets were frozen by a temporary retraining order.

A Dallas County grand jury indicted Gallagher for securities fraud of $100,000 or more and money laundering of $300,000 or more, two first-degree felonies. The criminal investigation into Gallagher and his company is ongoing. Investors can contact the Texas State Securities Board to file a complaint.

Gallagher’s prosecution was a result of a joint investigation by the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office, the Texas Department of Insurance, the Texas State Securities Board and the Hurst Police Department, according to a press release from the Dallas District Attorney’s office.

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