Amish, Mennonites targeted in Pennsylvania Ponzi scheme, feds say

Amish, Mennonites targeted in Pennsylvania Ponzi scheme, feds say


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. – An owner of a shuttered creamery faces federal charges for allegedly running a Ponzi scheme that tricked members of his own religious community to support the business. 

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Philip Elvin Riehl’s suspected $60 million scheme “targeted members of the Mennonite and Amish communities in Pennsylvania and elsewhere and is one of the largest Pennsylvania-based alleged Ponzi schemes in history.”

Riehl, an accountant from Berks County, Pennsylvania, is accused of fraudulently soliciting tens of millions of dollars into a bogus investment program, then diverting those funds to Trickling Springs Creamery, LLC, according to a news release from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. He also allegedly solicited investments that went directly to Trickling Springs. 

Riehl misrepresented the safety and security of the investments, and made misrepresentations and omissions about the creamery’s business and financial condition, according to the DOJ. 

Trickling Springs Creamery, pictured in 2015.

Tricking Springs Creamery used milk purchased from 32 family farms to make products that it sold along the East Coast. Its store and production facility in Chambersburg, shut down suddenly at the end of September, though the store remained open a few more days. It filed for bankruptcy in December. 

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A Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities filing from a year prior showed that Riehl, the majority owner of the company, and co-owners Gerald Byers, Elvin Martin and Dale Martin were accused of bilking nearly $9 million from more than 100 investors in Pennsylvania and around the country. The order sought a response from the owners as to why the department should not impose sanctions and remedies concerning the alleged violation.


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