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Feds seek forfeiture of $1.5 million, say Kaysville man used ‘ecclesiastical leadership’ to defraud victims

Posted at 11:05 AM, Sep 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-05 13:12:39-04

KAYSVILLE, Utah — Authorities are seeking the forfeiture of about $1.5 million from a Kaysville man they say defrauded his friends and fellow church members in a scheme called “The Project”.

According to an indictment filed August 29, Robert Glen Mouritsen is charged with three counts of wire fraud and three counts of money laundering.

A press release from the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah states the fraud scheme began in 2006 and continued through August of 2018.

The charges relate to three victims, and prosecutors say the first victim was defrauded for a total of $326,399.51. The second victim was taken for an estimated $165,000 over the years while victim three gave the man about $33,000.

The indictment states Mouritsen “…used his ecclesiastical leadership role to induce friends and fellow church congregates to provide him money in order to further a venture he called ‘The Project'”. Authorities did not specify which church the man’s leadership role was in.

The charges allege that Mouritsen told his victims The Project was a series of complicated international transactions “that would replace fiat money (legal tender by government decree) with an asset-backed currency system – for example, the U.S. dollar tied to the value of a commodity like gold.”

As the man failed to deliver on the promised returns for the victims’ investments, he used delaying tactics and sought more money in order to make good on his promises. He further told his victims that The Project relied on “extremely strict confidentiality” and that he could not reveal many details about the process.

The man told his victims The Project was expensive and needed more funds to continue before it could pay out, or that the process was being held up by the Patriot Act because the money was overseas. He told another victim that issues with Homeland Security were slowing down the pay outs.

Mouritsen also failed to tell investors The Project had failed to produce any returns in over a decade and that he used a “significant portion” of the money for his own personal use and gain, according to the US Attorney’s Office.

The indictment seeks the forfeiture of about $1.5 million that prosecutors say is traceable to the proceeds of the fraud scheme.

Mouritsen appeared in court after the indictment was filed, where he entered a plea of not guilty. A one-week jury trial is set for November 4, and Mouritsen has been released from custody on conditions of pretrial release.

The maximum sentence for each of the three counts of wire fraud is 20 years in prison, while each of the money laundering charges carry a potential of up to 10 years in prison.

Such cases of “affinity fraud” are not uncommon in Utah, and federal and state authorities have warned citizens about affinity fraud cases several times in recent years.