A “socially conscious” reality star couple highlighted on Oprah Winfrey’s network is being sued for allegedly scamming millions from the black community.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a federal lawsuit against Marlon & Lashonda Moore, who gained fame on the OWN reality show “Family or Fiance.” The Federal Trade Commission and the state of Arkansas also filed lawsuits against the couple.
Prosecutors say that the Texas couple advertised their investment scheme as all-Black, socially conscious, and faith-based, but in reality it was an illegal pyramid scheme that forced members to agree to never speak ill of the group in public.
It was known as B.I.N.T., or Blessings In No Time, and allegedly promised enormous returns based on an initial $1,400 investment by each of the members.
“In general, these schemes falsely promise a big return — or as BINT termed it, being ‘blessed out’ — following a modest initial payment,” read the FTC and Arkansas complaint.
“In reality, however, very few consumers make any money,” the complaint said. “And the few consumers that do make money sometimes lose their profits by reinvesting in the scheme.”
Some of the victims have begun a website to report and document the abuses by the B.I.N.T. scheme.
One victim of the alleged scheme, Coretta Vanterpool of Florida, told the Washington Post that she personally lost about $13,000 to B.I.N.T., and that her family totaled over $30,000 in losses to the Moores.
“They just made it sound so real, so nice,” said Vanterpool.
“A lot of people came in because they had been furloughed or they had lost their jobs,” she said. “Their companies had closed. A couple of ladies were about to lose their homes. I met one lady through the group who was trying to get the money so she could pay for chemotherapy.”
Other victims said they were sold on the promise of building black wealth.
“They were talking about building a Black community and building generational wealth,” said a California woman who participated in the scheme. “Those are the catchphrases now. They were just kind of selling people a dream.”
Here’s the couple on the Oprah Winfrey reality show:
Meet LaShonda and Dre | Family or Fiance | Oprah Winfrey Network