A former Ventura County resident was arrested in Miami, Florida and brought back to California to faces charges he operated a Ponzi scheme with members of his church in Simi Valley, with prosecutors saying he took more than $1.75 million dollars from investors.
The Ventura County District Attorney’s office says that from 2004 to 2007, Fidel Bermudez was a member of the Church of God in Simi Valley, and solicited investments from fellow congregants. Prosecutors say he promised large returns, said the investments were risk free, and told different people different stories about how the money was invested. Early investors did get promised returns, but the scheme eventually collapsed, and people went to the police for help. Bermudez left California around the time the operation fell apart.
Investigators say there was no investment plan, and that early investors were simply paid off with money which came in from others, until the scheme collapsed.
After an investigation by Simi Valley Police, and the California Department of Corporations, the 43-year-old man is facing a 31-count felony complaint.