'Amish Bernie Madoff' Busted
Ohio man accused of running $16.8m Ponzi scheme
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 16, 2011 2:21 AM CDT
Beachy targeted his fellow Amish, investigators say.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – We've had the Bernie Madoff of campaign treasurers, so now meet the Amish Madoff. A 77-year-old man in Ohio is accused of scamming thousands of investors in 29 states, mostly his fellow Amish, out of $16.8 million. Prosecutors say Monroe Beachy ran a Ponzi scheme for decades, telling investors he would invest in safe securities, but instead putting their money in riskier ones and sending them false account statements, ABC reports. Beachy, who declared bankruptcy earlier this year, faces up to 20 years in jail if convicted.

The Amish Helping Fund, a nonprofit organization that helps young Amish families buy their first homes, is among the victims of the alleged scam. The case is "an example of what we call an affinity fraud scheme—ones that play upon good will and previous relationships and, therefore, sometimes affect a particular community more than the general public," a US attorney tells the Canton Repository. "The Beachy case is one of these affinity scams that, unfortunately, reminds us that even in the heartland, if it sounds too good to be true, it is."