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Karen Scullin ReportingA Utah man who bilked fellow church members out of a half-million dollars could spend up to thirty years in prison.
Thirty-year old Bryan Hawker was sentenced this morning after pleading guilty to six counts of securities fraud. According to Brian Hawker's victims, his investment plan seemed like a good deal. They now know it was simply too good to be true. A little justice in the end is making these people feel better.
Brian Hawker learned he'll have to pay the price for what he took from fellow church members--if not in cash, in time behind bars. Five to thirty years after pleading guilty to six counts of securities fraud.
Connie Miner, Scam Victim: “I hope he does not get out, because this is his lifestyle, he'll continue to do it."
Neal Gunnarson, Assistant Attorney General for Utah: “I am delighted the courts slammed this guy. He had taken the hearts out of these people."
It all started when Hawker told a few people at church that God had shown him in a vision that ten people would get rich by investing in his company. He had the plan laid out on a computer program, and Hawker was a good salesman.
Twenty-eight people gave him money; all were promised a fifty percent return in six months.
Connie Miner: “It looked like there was no way that we could lose, and the market in general was looking good."
But after six months Connie Miner wrote Hawker letters telling him she wanted out of the deal. He sent her a post-dated check for 45 thousand dollars.
Connie Miner: “I went over to the bank, and they looked at me and they said this account is no longer open."
Eventually Hawker was caught and prosecuted, but not before hurting a lot of people financially and emotionally.
Connie Miner: “I've hurt desperately from this, and I don't trust people, and I don't trust anyone."
Neal Gunnarson: “I hope the con-artists out there are paying good attention. Because if we can get them, we're going to slam them."
Unfortunately these scams are not unusual. The scammers often prey on fellow church members in just about any denomination. Prosecutors say Hawker spent the cash in this case on personal needs.