Utah continues to live up to reputation as fraud capital of the nation

Salt Lake TribuneA Utah man is facing 18 charges in California for allegedly running an investment fraud scheme that may have cost victims as much as $65 million.

Jacob Keith Cooper, 40, a resident of Washington in southern Utah, was arrested April 5 on a warrant out of San Diego, court records show.

Cooper, owner of Total Wealth Management, faces charges of conspiracy, misrepresentations in the sale of investment opportunities, theft from an elder and employing an artifice or scheme to defraud. Cooper is scheduled for arraignment on Wednesday in San Diego.

A number of alleged victims around San Diego are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Cooper even touted his two-year Mormon mission in New England and boasted that he is an Eagle Scout on a Total Wealth Management website.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sued Cooper and his company in February of 2015, alleging he was engaging in ongoing fraud involving unregistered sales of securities.

So I didn’t know about this whole Utah Fraud thing until a week or two ago. Just so you guys are aware, no one outside Utah is aware that its the fraud capital of the nation.

Ray tells me that it has something to do with people taking advantage of the close-knit LDS community, and that many people in that community are a little too trusting with who they invest their hard-earned cash.

Let me tell you, I’m shocked that a group of people who willingly give 10 percent of their income to a religious organization are also willing to put their money into unproven investments that might require — shall we say, a little faith?

So we get scumbags like Jacob Cooper who roll into San Diego ready and willing to screw anyone and everyone who will give him a dime, which was apparently enough people to total a staggering $65M.

But, hey, according to his website he’s an Eagle Scout, so that’s a thing. I guess we know he’s not gay.

This has been going on for a while — you can read this almost identical story on the Tribune from 2015, detailing how Cooper was using his ties in the Mormon community to defraud investors. Makes you wonder what the hell took so long to get his ass in jail, frankly. Hope he spends the rest of his life in there.

If you’re local and worried about fraud here in the Salt Lake Valley, the state has  two anti-fraud educational seminars coming up. One tonight at the U Law School Auditorium from 5-8:30 and another at UVU next month. The Unfiltered boys are all over the fraud beat.

PS — I drove by the Mormon temple in San Diego last week. Thing is pretty crazy looking. Worth taking a look at.

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