30th January, 2011
"AFFINITY FRAUD" - a sprinkling of unholy water
It is a complex crime in that those who are victims, see the perpetrators as honest-to-God do-gooders. Even after the sting is exposed it takes a long time before the truth hits home and the trauma begins. The pangs of this particular crime go past the pocket and deep into the heart because it is a betrayal of confidence; a deception that challenges the victim's ability to differentiate between friend and fiend, a man of God and a bloodsucker from hell.
"Affinity Fraud", is when a confidence trickster goes through a pre-meditated and deviously conceived strategy to gain the trust of one, or many, and then proceed to strip them financially. This sting is initiated where victims share the same religious beliefs, nationality, race, ethnicity, work environment, or membership. The common factor in this quickly growing area of crime, lies in a sense of 'belonging', or an 'affinity'. Migrants, such as those from India, who find themselves in a foreign land where association is restricted due to language barriers and customs, are vulnerable to this type of fraud. Shysters first claim affinity via faith, then tie their solicitations up with God by presenting scriptural quotes condoning the proposition. We also see, as exposed on this web site, that confidence tricksters who are active in this area of crime, will go so far as to change their own customs and beliefs, like wolves in sheep's clothing, to expand target zones and facilitate operations. The idea behind this particular strategy is to lure prey by implying- "You can trust me because I am like you....We share the same background and interests....This venture will increase the wealth of the temple....Help "the mission"....It will tie you forever to God's chosen family, and....make you a stash of cash."
Like a soul-seeking-missile, Affinity Fraud circumvents all the usual warnings connected with ponzi schemes, because it comes to the attention of the target via trusted friends, or Rolex sporting brethren on the path to Heaven. The crime moves from a one-on-one situation and into the masses when it is affiliated by individuals who recognize the necessity of organization to corral and shakedown large flocks of followers in God's name, and in the interest of large gains. This makes possible the utility of special skills in connection with given situations, the-- "I don't trust him, but I trust you" confidence factor necessary in dealing with problem targets. When the operation reaches this level of function it becomes not only lucrative but self perpetuating in that it displays an established hierarchy of leaders and followers, which makes any investment an extension of 'wanting to belong' and 'be accepted'. Further bolstering the confidence to invest, are the smiling faces of those who appear more senior in knowledge and wealth to the not-so-happy outsider---you. And also, not to be mitigated in anyway is the fact that practically all religious organizations scheming these shakedowns are government recognized, tax exempt, ipso facto endorsed institutions. With a government stamp of approval, criminals operating in the security and anonymity of religious institutions have no reason to register on electoral rolls or in any other registry by which identification is made easy. When we add to this the aliases used in religious institutions such as ISKCON, it gives the criminal a clear getaway when fraud is discovered, and the institution itself plenty of room and time to maneuver or arbitrate where / when necessary.
Using the mix of psychology and philosophy this particular field of crime provides, conmen find themselves easily forgiven once a scam is exposed for what it truly is. Victims are caught in a vice of indecision as to whether the perpetrator is truly a scammer or just another victim of a wicked world already identified and forgiven by verses in scripture, selected and touted by the criminals themselves. Fully exploiting the conundrum of forgiveness and reluctant condemnation, organized criminals in organized religion put in place laws, ad hoc committees, dispute resolution ombudsmen and arbitrators, to swing the vote in favor of forgiveness. Laws such as this one decreed by the Hare Krishna cult (ISKCON), uses threats of excommunication to impose a depravation of Civil Rights and to shut out secular involvement, ensuring the continuance ad perpetuum of 'Affinity Fraud', along with a host of other iniquities: Iskcon Law No: 12.8 ".......and however much he may be dissatisfied with the exercise of that jurisdiction, he shall refrain from invoking the supervisory power of the Civil Court, but shall seek redress of any grievance(s) through the ISKCON judicial process. Otherwise, he may be removed from office and / or his membership in ISKCON terminated.(88)." In an institution where employers and employees are ghosts to State governance, and where no written contract binds either to the Law of respondeat superior (a key doctrine in the law of agency which provides that an employer is responsible for his/her/its agents), a black hole exists wherefrom criminals emerge and disappear leaving behind an untraceable alias, and an organization detached; free of accountability.
Targets are primed, 'cultivated' and stung either instantly or over a period of time depending or their willingness to "surrender": a word that stretches all the way back to past lives and resultant "karma" therefrom. The indication of a soul's evolution on the path back to God is gauged by his / her surrender to the organization and its infrastructure. Any member who transfers trust from "material attachments" to Episcopal heads of the organization, is deemed to be 'advanced'. The more rapid the transfer the more organizational endorsement the renouncer receives, until confronted by the possibility of being the victim of a sting or joining the organization as a career "preacher" and helping others renounce their "material attachments." In the event that one manages to see through the smoke and mirrors and concludes that he / she has been stung by corporate "Affinity Fraud", there is very little they can do against such well-oiled criminal machines. In most cases the victim has already been compromised by participating in some ponzi scheme set up early in the sting for that very purpose. Even if the victim feels angered enough to seek restitution, he/ she would have nothing more than an alias linked to a ghost, who could be on the other side of the world setting up the next scam. On the flip side, should the victim decide to join the organization, whether in knowledge of the sting, or in belief that it was God's arrangement, management makes an assessment and the prospective 'full time' applicant is placed in one of three categories- a) Gullible b) Smart but Gullible c) Leadership material.
Applicants in the Gullible classification are important to the scheme in that they are cosmetic: giving the organization a facade necessary to convince outsiders of the missionary agenda being espoused. The Smart but Gullible group, are those smart enough to understand how the sting works but gullible enough to believe God gets the profits. The third classification extends from Middle Management all the way up through Temple Presidents, Regional Secretaries, Zonal Managers, Deputies, Executive Commissioners, Governing Body Commissioners, and finally to the Episcopal heads, or ecclesiastical face of God on earth. The a) & b) brackets work the direct line of contact to prospective victims. They assess status, wealth, family and connections, in consultation and under supervision of lower Middle Management, whose job it is to keep an eye on a) & b) and tie them through established rituals to a member of the Episcopal head; a method of control that is both philosophical and psychological.All categories are equally important to the crime of Affinity Fraud, the only difference being that the first two classifications a) & b), will remain doormats; impecunious and enslaved, while their Episcopal bosses, whose victims were told to detach themselves from materiality, see no law against riding in Cadillacs if they prefer not to ride in Volkswagens.
Readers who have not yet been stung by organized crime via organized religion, should look out for the tell tale signs when approached by or introduced to these government endorsed and well established international organizations. Here are only some of the Affinity Fraud stings which nett millions in tax free dollars for these shysters every year:
1) Vision Plans for funding new religious establishments.
2) Bogus "royalty interest" scams
3) Investment contracts in non-existent companies
4) Enlistment fees / charges for various religious seminars / functions / paraphernalia
5) Straight out donations
6) Setting up tax exemption schemes
7) Money laundering for percentages
8) Property investments / real estate fraud
9) Sponsorship scams
10) Percentage payments for transacting business under the organizations tax.ex. umbrella.
The irony is- many religious organizations, such as the Hare Krishnas, are in fact founded by saints. His Divine Grace, A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder of the mission, was a learned scholar who spent days and night engrossed in translating ancient Sanskrit texts for Universities and interested students. He did not differ in any way with the saints who came before him, in his line of teaching. However, the alarming truth is, in his final days he claimed he was being poisoned by someone at his bedside. He also stated that the saint who preceded him was also murdered. Within a short time of his passing, the eleven personalities who claimed to have been appointed by him as inheritors, were exposed as gun-runners, drug-dealers, sexual perverts, etc., etc., etc.; exhibiting the usual traits associated with common criminality. Further it was discovered, some twenty years later, that Swami Prabhupada had put in place a witnessed document, the "Direction of Management," charging the acting committee to carry out elections every three years. It was intended to create fiscal transparency and managerial accountability. The document was hidden by those who are suspect in his murder. And even after all the facts are known, the organization's current Episcopal heads refuse to entertain the directive on any level. We leave you with that fait accompli.