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Preacher targeted in Internet fraud inquiry

Federal regulators have frozen the assets of a preacher who authorities claim defrauded investors of more than $1.5-million in an Internet trading scheme run from her home.

Nancy Cheal, pastor of the Christian Complex Church for 22 years has been subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury in Boston on Feb. 15.

The Securities and Exchange Commission froze her assets and entered a restraining order against her business, Relief Enterprise.

James Adelman, an SEC district manager in Massachusetts, where the investigation originated, said Cheal has duped hundreds of investors in 48 states and abroad.

From the Relief Enterprise Web site, she offered and sold investments by promising weekly returns of 100 percent, Adelman said.

Cheal assured investors their investment was guaranteed by the federal government. By making that assurance, Cheal violated federal securities laws, Adelman said.

Cheal said she raised the $1.5-million to purchase a bank on an Indian reservation in Oklahoma to help people with bad credit who cannot obtain mortgages. She said banks on Indian reservations are not required to do credit checks before approving a loan.

There are no Indian reservations in Oklahoma.

She said investors had made her small loans of $25 to $30 and she was going to set up accounts at her bank in Oklahoma. As members of the bank, investors could apply for mortgages, Cheal said.

All the money was legally borrowed and set up in an escrow account, she said.

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