Tu Le et al. v. Prestige Community Credit Union, filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California on February 18, 2022, is the second putative class action filed in connection with a church-based investment scheme propped up by Ponzi-type payments, this time targeting the bank that housed the schemers’ accounts.
Plaintiffs Tu Le, Geneva Nguyen, and Mai T. Ly are individuals who invested in a scheme run by entities related to a now-defunct church and its pastor, convicted felon Kent R.E. Whitney (the “Whitney Schemers”). The scheme targeted individuals by misrepresenting that their funds would be used to open investment accounts earning over 10% interest, but very little of investor funds actually went into trading accounts. Defendant Prestige Community Credit Union (“Prestige”) is the credit union purportedly used by the Whitney Schemers. Plaintiffs seek to represent a class of all individuals who invested and lost money with any of the Whitney Schemers, as well as a sub-class of all such class members who were residents of California and over 65 years old at the time of investment.
Plaintiffs allege that the Whitney Schemers used their accounts at Prestige to scam the class out of millions of dollars. Plaintiffs claim that Prestige would have learned of Whitney’s criminal past through its account opening procedures but permitted accounts to be opened in any event so long as he was not the signatory. Moreover, Plaintiffs claim that Prestige would have learned of the scheme through its account monitoring obligations due to suspicious transactions that did not resemble investment activity.
The complaint contains claims for aiding and abetting fraud, aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty, violation of California Penal Code § 496, and assisting elder abuse. Plaintiffs seek damages of over $25,000,000, as well as interest, treble damages, costs of suit, and attorneys’ fees.