Georgia Bible Scammer Spent $1M of $32M Fraud on Sports Betting
A former Georgia resident, Jason Shenk, has been indicted for allegedly misdirecting more than $30 million in charitable funds towards personal interests. That included more than $1 million in bets at an online sportsbook, and multimillion investments in his family farm and nuclear energy companies.
The funds were supposedly intended for the distribution of Bibles and Christian literature in China. But Shenk instead diverted them to his own ends.
Two large unnamed charities, as well as individual investors in Ohio, North Carolina, and several other states, were defrauded of more than $32 million between 2010 and 2019, prosecutors said in a Justice Department press release this week.
Shenk, formerly of Dublin, Georgia, renounced his U.S. citizenship in 2016 and is currently on the run. If convicted on any or all of the 37 charges he faces, Shenk could see up to 20 years in prison and forfeiture of property traceable to the offenses.
“When people of faith donate money for evangelistic purposes, they reasonably expect those who solicit their donations to act as faithful stewards of those funds,” said U.S. Attorney Jill E. Steinberg.
“This case alleges an egregious breach of that trust at the expense of multiple charities and individual donors.”
A High-Stakes Scam
Shenk, 45, originally from Dublin, Georgia, is now internationally sought after the grand jury indictment.
In addition to his sports betting activities, Shenk allegedly invested nearly $7 million into his family farm and ventured into nuclear energy investments.
He reportedly took out life insurance policies in other people’s names, bought $1 million worth of gold and diamonds, and purchased $800K in property in Chile. These activities are believed to have taken place from 2010 to 2019.
Shenk is accused of using a variety of shell corporations and international bank accounts to mask his fraudulent activity from the taxman and investors, including companies based in Hong Kong, Singapore, and in various U.S. states.
Deception and Misdirection
Potentially to avoid financial reporting requirements, prosecutors say, Shenk renounced his U.S. citizenship in 2016.
He is accused of creating fake spreadsheets representing his distribution of Bibles in China and claiming persecution by Chinese authorities to avoid oversight by the charities that donated the funds.
He is charged with laundering the money the charities gave him while lying to foreign banks and charitable donors. Two main charities, whose names are not revealed in the indictment, provided Shenk with around $32 million specifically for producing and distributing Christian literature in China.
The indictment also reveals that Shenk portrayed himself as a Christian missionary dedicated to various Christian mission projects around the world, and in south east Asia, including in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and China.
Warrants have been issued for his arrest, while IRS Criminal Investigations continues to look into the matter. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew A. Josephson is prosecuting on behalf the government.
Federal authorities have asked anyone who believes they may have been a victim of Shenk’s scam, or who has any other information, to call 478-752-6810.