The Winans name is golden in most black churches. We had hits from the Winans Brothers, Bebe and CeCe and even the sister-in-law Vickie, they are hit makers and they have influence. So when Michael Winans Jr. came to the church folks with an opportunity to make money many jumped on it. They believed they could get rich and they believed in the Winans name. Pastors often refer to themselves as the Sheppard and the members as sheep. Well, sheep are not very smart and they will easily follow anyone leading and in this case many have been led into financial ruin. “Hundreds of Detroit-area and Michigan investors lost as much as $11 million to a Ponzi scheme involving a Saudi Arabian crude oil bond scam connected to Michael Winans Jr., according to state regulators. “Michael Winans Jr. used the family name and connections in the Detroit religious community to prey on church members,” said Jason Moon, a spokesman for the Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation.” Detroit detective Maurice McClure said “Many people were scammed through the churches — including a report of it involving a church as far away as Alaska. He said people thought it was legitimate — and a way to make money as oil prices went up. Investors later claimed that they did not make any money but instead lost it. “One lady lost her home and she was living in a car,” McClure said. Ameer El, 41, formerly of Detroit, said Thursday that he invested about $7,500 of his buyout money from Chrysler and lost it. He heard about the investment from a friend of a friend and attended a seminar at the New Genesis Beginnings Church in Detroit. He had faith in the Winans name — and the fact that the seminar was in a church.”* There are three problems with this situation: the first one is the fact that Winans knew or should have know he was running a Ponzi scheme and the second one is that churches would open their doors to him without truly knowing the facts, and lastly that he would prey on the people of Detroit. Detroit is economically devestated so to hear that people invested their life savings in this con game is heartbreaking. Some church members truly believe in their leader and if he says something is as if it has been sanctioned by God. Winans is accused of fleecing the vulnerable and the sad fact is in some cases their pastor placed them on his altar.
*Detroit Free Press