It’s a strange new world we’re living in, although some things are evergreen. Scammers, for instance, have always existed, but have simply changed the way they trick people out of their money as technology has evolved.

One pastor has taken his place in a long line of charlatans using religion as a cover for their misdeeds, and has been charged with stealing more than $1.3 million from his community in a cryptocurrency scam. His defense? God told him to do it.

Eli Regalado and his wife have been charged with creating and selling INDXcoin to people in Denver, telling investors that the Lord had told the couple people would become rich if they invested. In reality, prosecutors allege, the currency was “practically worthless,” and investors lost millions. All the while, the Regalados used the money to remodel their home.

In a video statement posted online, Regalado admitted that the charges were true, and also revealed that a “few hundred thousand dollars” was used to finance a home remodel that the “Lord told [them] to do.”

He continued, “We took God at his work and sold a cryptocurrency with no clear exit.” Regalado continues to hold out hope that God will “work a miracle in the financial sector.” Between June 2022 and April 2023, the couple raised about $3.2 million from over 300 people, pocketing more than half and spending it on things like their remodel, jewelry and an au pair. Investors were told that some of the money raised would be used to help widows and orphans.

Shocking no one, it turns out that the couple had no experience with crypto before creating INDXcoin, but advertised it as a low-risk investment nonetheless. In a statement, the Colorado securities commissioner said, “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,” and encouraged consumers and potential investors to remain “very skeptical.”

Civil fraud charges have been filed against the couple, with prosecutors alleging that they violated several tenets of the Colorado Securities Act. The Regalados are due to appear in state court soon.

I can’t remember which book of the Bible tells believers to go forth and fleece people out of their money. Can somebody refresh my memory?