Corvallis, Ore. — Erik J. Hass, a resident of Corvallis, Oregon, has been sentenced to federal prison today in connection with an investment fraud scheme that falsely presented itself as supporting various Christian missionaries and organizations.
Hass, aged 53, received a 30-month prison term and will be subject to three years of supervised release upon completion of his sentence. Additionally, he has been ordered to make restitution of over $1.75 million to the victims of his fraudulent activities.
Court documents reveal that in January 2013, Hass established Simply Grains, Inc., purportedly dedicated to backing Christian missionaries and organizations while offering substantial investment returns. He solicited individuals from his church, colleagues, and acquaintances to invest in the organization through self-directed retirement accounts and cash holdings. In return, investors were provided unsecured promissory notes with the promise of compounded annual returns of up to 30%.
Despite claiming he would only benefit from the scheme if monthly returns exceeded 2%, Hass began withdrawing a salary from investors’ funds for personal expenses from the outset. Over the course of the operation, he issued fabricated account statements and fictitious IRS 1099-INT forms to deceive investors about their returns and account balances.
Hass continued to amass investments until 2018, all the while aware of his inability to fulfill his investment commitments. New investments were used to make Ponzi-style payments to earlier investors who had sought to withdraw funds. This fraudulent endeavor resulted in over 20 investors losing a collective sum of more than $1.75 million.
On June 9, 2020, a federal grand jury in Eugene indicted Hass on eight counts, including wire fraud, mail fraud, and money laundering. Subsequently, on February 21, 2023, Hass pleaded guilty to five counts of wire fraud and two counts of mail fraud.
The investigation into this case was jointly conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation. Prosecution was led by Gavin W. Bruce, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.