Affinity fraud

Fleecing the faithful
Phil Harmon was a successful business executive with deep roots in the Quaker community of the Northwest. By the 1990s the Oregon man had several homes in Oregon and Washington State. In his early career, he sold insurance. He gained widespread trust as a businessperson and garnered clients such as George Fox University, a Quaker school in Newberg, Oregon, and the Northwest Yearly Meeting, an organization of 67 Quaker churches in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. But he began to collect premiums without buying the insurance and using the premium payments to cover his clients’ claims. By the mid-1990s, he was also taking investment money from clients, which he invested only in his own complex web of businesses.

In 1997 Harmon was convicted of fraud and sentenced to eight years in prison. It was estimated that he had stolen between $15 million and $20 million from members of his community, including members of his own family.

 

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