Federal agents seized more than $1.1 million from a self-proclaimed pastor in Norfolk who is under investigation in an international investment fraud scheme, according to court filings unsealed this week.
Benjamin Seigler of Pall Mall Street has not been charged but is the focus of an ongoing inquiry into several of his investment programs, says an affidavit filed in federal court this week by U.S. postal inspectors. More than 4,000 individuals in this country and abroad placed investments with Seigler, but none has seen any returns, the affidavit says.
“Seigler is defrauding individuals by selling fraudulent insurance and securities products,” says the affidavit, filed by postal inspector Eric Brown. “This scheme is ongoing.”
Postal inspectors have been investigating Seigler since November, when managers at the Norview post office, near Seigler’s apartment, noticed he was receiving more than 50 letters a day containing money orders made out to him in amounts ranging from $44 to $1,000, which Seigler cashed at various post offices around the city, the affidavit says.
The mail originated from states across the country as well as from Canada, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Many of the money orders noted they were payment to the “Global Pension Investment Trust” or some variation.
Further investigation discovered that Seigler had deposited, from October to March, more than $900,000 in cash in a Chartway Federal Credit Union account, Brown said in his affidavit.
The inspectors obtained warrants to listen in on Seigler’s phone calls. During daily conference calls with investors, Seigler said his investments would yield greater returns than traditional bank accounts or stock programs, Brown wrote.
For example, an investment for as little as $42.62 in an insurance contract would yield $3,000, $79,000 or as much as $154,000, Brown’s affidavit says.
The investments were purportedly to be made through an online entity called Global Pension Plan, which has a Web site with no phone number, address or contact information, nor does it identify exactly what insurance program funds are invested with.
“Because we want to succeed in this business, we need to protect the privacy of all our partners. This may sound confusing and shady, but please try to take another perspective,” Global Pension Plan says on its Web site.
Postal inspectors interviewed a number of people, mainly in Arizona and Louisiana, who invested with Seigler but have not received any returns. Those investors were not identified in the court filings.
Postal inspectors did not return calls for comment. Officials in the U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment on the ongoing investigation.
Messages left for Seigler at his home were not returned.
Over the past several months, about 15 people who invested with Seigler signed an online petition stating that Seigler “has caused great consternation among some in the group” by not investing in the Global Pension Fund. The petition signatures are collected at ipetitions.com, an independent Web site.
The petition asks that officials at Global Pension Fund “take appropriate action” to divorce Seigler from the program.
Postal inspectors say they believe Seigler used some of the investors’ money to pay for his own investments, but largely had stocked the money in his Chartway account, according to the court records.
Last month, the inspectors took more than $1 million from Seigler’s credit union account plus another $150,000 in cash from his home as well as 27 boxes of documents, two computers and a handgun, according to a federal search warrant unsealed this week.
Agents also seized three brand-new vehicles Seigler purchased recently: two
Chevy Malibus and a Chevy Trailblazer. When he purchased the vehicles, Seigler identified himself as a pastor with a church called “Talking by Faith Global Deliverance Anointed,” according to Brown’s affidavit.
Public records show that Seigler held a Virginia home improvement contractor’s license from 2000 to 2004 and that he lived in Virginia Beach at the time. In 1996, Seigler and his wife filed for bankruptcy in Pennsylvania and emerged with their debts discharged, according to court records.
Here are two forum threads related to the Global Pension Plan scam: