Osório José Lopes Júnior orchestrated what the authorities consider one of the biggest scams of this style in the South American country. The 43-year-old Brazilian presented himself to society as an evangelical pastor. However, his lifestyle was unusual, as he enjoyed all kinds of luxury while demanding payment from his followers.
Because of Osório’s background, the authorities started Operation “False Prophet” which mobilized about 100 agents. Investigations pointed to Lopes as the leader of a criminal gang made up of a network of 200 vigilantes dedicated to defrauding around 50,000 people inside and outside Brazil.
Mode of operation
Last Thursday, September 21, authorities arrested Osório at his family’s ranch in Tocantis. The alleged pastor was investigated for ideological falsehood, tax evasion, fraud and money laundering.
The criminal network used their status as religious authorities to, in their respective temples, convince their faithful to invest in financial operations and charitable projects of dubious origin. In return, they were promised a profit of a bad amount such as cooperating for 25 reais (about five dollars) and getting an octillion reais. To gain credibility with their followers, they use the logos of the World Bank and the Banco do Brasil without permission.
Criminals undertake the task of creating phantom legal entities to pretend to have support from important financial institutions. Likewise, they use conspiracy theories to convince their followers, one of which is “Nesara Gesara.” This supposed theory refers to a set of economic reforms proposed in the 1990s in the US that were never presented to Congress.
What is the estimated value of the theft?
In its five active years, the band was able to mobilize about 156 million reais (a little over 30 million dollars). At the same time, they created 40 fake companies and 800 illegitimate bank accounts. “The scam can be considered one of the biggest ever investigated in Brazil, because the victims were found from different social classes and located in almost all the units of the federation,” said Leonardo de Castro, coordinator of Department to Combat Corruption and Organized Crime. .