Fraud Aware seeks to educate, protect Plain groups from scams

Fraud Aware will have free copies of “The Village that Burned $3,000,000” in Gordonville, Pa., on July 5-6. The book is a parable and uses fire as a metaphor to help Plain readers understand the danger of investment fraud. — Eileen Kinch

It is said that an educated consumer is the best defense against swindlers, criminals and those with malice. To that end, the board at Fraud Aware based in Ephrata, Pa., is working to get the word out to the Plain communities in simple and understandable methods.

“Our mission is simple,” shared board member Darryl Weaver. “We want to be a valued resource for the Anabaptist communities. We want to be able to equip them with information to better identify scams.”

To facilitate that work, the group has been bringing information to Plain communities via seminars and attendance at events like The Midwest Tool Expo and Horse Progress Days. Volunteers share information from the Federal Trade Commission through handouts.

Thanks to generous sponsorships, Fraud Aware is also able to distribute free books. Such is the case at Horse Progress days set for July 5-6 in Gordonville, Pa.

“We will be giving away to those in attendance, copies of the book, The Village That Burned $3 Million,” said Weaver.

For those who are not familiar with the book by Davin Martin, it is a parable. The book is uses fire as a metaphor to show how a village essentially burned all its assets, including a widow’s retirement, a young father’s farm downpayment and even a school’s building fund, because of fraud.

Illegal investment schemes are the heart of the story – a story line that has been replayed across the nation in Anabaptist and non-Anabaptist settings. The book gives insight into how to avoid becoming a victim of those situations when things seem too good to be true.

“A number of us saw losses in the Plain communities stemming from investment issues,” Weaver said. “Together we brainstormed, and this is the result.”

Fraud Aware is working to become a conservative Anabaptist resource for not only fraud education but identification and prevention. “We are not investment advisors,” Weaver said. “That is not our mission. We are working to educate people so they can make informed decisions.”

Weaver noted that many members of the Plain community are simply too trusting. While that is not a bad quality in some areas of life, it does allow Plain groups to be more easily manipulated and become the victims of scams.

“They don’t have access to the some of the mainstream media and other resources that can help that gauge if something could be a scam or not,” he explained. “We want that connection for them to real resources to protect them, to educate them.”

The volunteer board is made up of members from several states. “Fraud Aware was formed by a group of concerned Amish and Mennonite brethren who observed the consequences of illegal money pools and other frauds,” Weaver noted. “Millions have been lost, and many people have been negatively impacted.”

An insightful piece the group has shared is called Investment Fraud Among Us by David Bohlander. It is a 20-page booklet that takes a hard look at now the financial practices of those within the Anabaptist community are not only contributing to but also supporting a pattern of financial abuse in the Plain communities.

The booklet opens: “We have a very serious problem among Conservative Anabaptists. Members of our churches have lost millions of dollars through fraudulent financial activities. These losses have far-reaching effects individually, upon our Christian witness, and upon our capacity to fund the work of God’s kingdom.” The booklet points out that fraud is even committed by Conservative Anabaptists.

Fraud Aware is continually looking for ways to educate, inform and protect fellow members of the Anabaptist faith. “We are here to help,” Weaver said.

Fraud Aware is a 501(c)(3) organization and is governed by a board. The group’s website,, includes electronic versions of many of its educational writings.

A longer version of this article originally appeared in The Budget on June 12. Used with permission.

Beverly Keller

Beverly Keller is the Closer Look editor at The Budget.

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