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Unsealed FBI Files Reveal Cult Church Ponzi Scheme

Seek The Truth Blog

Unsealed FBI Files Reveal Cult Church Ponzi Scheme:

In 1973, George Smith (William Branham's Son-in-Law), Earl Martin, Joseph Coleman, David Botazzi, Jim Wolfe, William Palmer, And David Mamalias open "Restoration Ministry Outreach, Inc" an organization created for "charitable, religious, educational, and scientific purposes." Many in the Branham cult following are familiar with several of these names -- even more who have left the cult years ago are familiar with much distaste. Some ex-cult members consider a few of these names to be synonymous with unethical business dealings, and unspeakable problems in the church.

Later, in 1988, the name of this business was changed to Believers International, Inc which is the name of the current company registered in the state of Tennessee under the industry "Book Publishing." Under State of Tennessee law, the company's filings are not published. Fortunately, registered agents for the company listed their addresses in Indiana, which triggers the Indiana State Government system to publish the Tennessee Corporation documents with the Secretary of the State.

At some point in time, Charles (Chuck) Rinkle of Jeffersonville, Indiana was added as the registered agent, later to be replaced by Betty Phillips who is the daughter of the former pastor of the Branham Tabernacle, Willard Collins. Recently, Willard Collins, Betty's husband James Phillips, and the entire staff of deacons resigned from the Branham Tabernacle after government documents were made public on our website exposing what (in my opinion) looks like tax fraud by members of the Branham family.

Interestingly, in 2010, Joseph Coleman's son and five other cult "church leaders" pleaded guilty to creating a Ponzi Scheme involving mishandling funds of around $10 Million. Isaac Ovid, Aaron Riddle, Joseph Coleman, Timothy Smith, and Robert Riddle were all named as defendants according to the 2010 press release by the FBI.

2010 was an interesting year in the cult following of William Branham. Immediately after Coleman's son pleaded guilty, papers were filed to dissolve the corporation Coleman created with George Smith, "Believers International." In the same year, Voice of God recordings settled in a criminal case involving Wayne Evans, in which Voice of God Recordings agreed to pay $820,000 in damages. Cult followers were suddenly aware that "big names" in the cult following were guilty of swindling "big money," and several members of the cult became more cautious. Some of them left the cult altogether.

According to 2014 filings, Believers International is still active and showing significant increase in assets. However the Coleman family does not appear on any filings. Angela Smith, George Smith, William Smith, and Betty Phillips are the only names listed.

The timing of these events and the names listed raise several questions, as do the business entities themselves. Why is "Believers International" operating as a "Book Publishing" company? If the End of Days is near, and the rapture is soon to take place, why create more business entities? Why not instead support Voice of God Recordings as they spread William Branham's "Message?" Doesn't it seem odd that ministers, missionaries, and evangelists create well-funded and separate organizations rather than join forces and warn of the coming Apocalypse? What good are more organizations, assets, and more when we are being raptured from this world to the next?

Why was Believers International, Inc dissolved after the FBI brought down the cult church leaders who pleaded guilty to the $10 million dollars, and why does Joseph Coleman's name no longer appear on their filings? Why was Charles (Chuck) Rinkle listed as a registered agent when he had not (to my knowledge) attended church in several years. Did the broken engagement to Sarah Branham play a factor in his being part of this business entity? Why was he replaced by the former pastor's daughter? Did this play any factor in the (in my opinion) forced resignation of the former pastor of the Branham Tabernacle?

The new government documents are now on our website. More to come! Stay tuned!