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Toronto church pastors accused in massive fraud

TORONTO – A husband and wife who served as co-pastors of a Toronto church are under arrest in an alleged $8.6-million financial fraud scheme.

Police allege Marlon Gary Hibbert, 49, and his wife Verna, 48, convinced parishioners and other investors that he was a successful foreign currency trader.

Investors were promised huge rates of return for their money.

“Each month the accused would have statements sent to the victims showing growth in their investment accounts, when in fact, the accused was losing money,” Det. Gail Regan told a news conference at Police Headquarters Friday.

An audit estimates the fraud at $8.6-million, of which $4-million remains outstanding.

So far, police have identified 38 victims, bilked out of a total of $2.1-million.

Many of the investors have lost homes and retirement funds to the fraud.

“They are distraught, they still can’t believe someone like him could have done this to them…some of them, it’s their life savings that they’ve taken out of the bank through their RRSP for retirement,” Det. Regan said.

The suspects are also accused of using the money to fund a lavish lifestyle complete with luxury cars and big homes.

Police believe the fraud was run between 2005 and 2010 while the Hibberts were pastors at the Masonic Church of God with locations on Queen St. East and on Midland Ave. in Scarborough.

The Hibberts are now co-pastors at Life Centre Word of Faith Ministries.

Marlon and Verna Hibbert are each face 38 counts of fraud over $5,000.

Lorraine Bahlmann, 47, who allegedly administered the investment scheme, faces similar charges.

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