Local News

Former Raleigh man wanted in church-based Ponzi scheme

Posted June 17, 2016 2:28 p.m. EDT

Ronald Earl McCullough

— The FBI on Thursday offered a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest of a former Raleigh resident accused of bilking church members out of more than $1 million.

Ronald Earl McCullough, 45, has been on the run for three years after being charged with conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud, engaging in unlawful monetary transactions, and aiding and abetting in a scheme that ran from January 2009 to May 2012, authorities said.

McCullough portrayed himself as a religious leader to gain people's trust and encouraged them to invest in what he described as an exclusive foreign currency exchange group, authorities said. Potential investors were told that the minimum to participate in the group was $1 million, but because they were Christians who wanted to help other Christians "build wealth," McCullough and a partner would allow the people to invest through their trading account, authorities said.

The men guaranteed high returns to investors, often doubling their investment within 30 days, authorities said, but the men repaid little beyond initial investments. Bank records show that McCullough and his partner, who was convicted last year, spent more than $800,000 on clothes, cars and lavish homes for themselves and lost another $400,000 trading the money entrusted to them, authorities said.

McCullough may now be living in the Atlanta area, authorities said. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call 1-800-225-5324.