For years, an Idaho real-estate agent approached devout Christian families with irresistible investment opportunities, quoting the Bible as he promised them annual returns as high as 25 percent.
But it was all a massive scam, the feds say.
Bradley R. Heinrichs, of Boise, was actually targeting Christians as part of a Ponzi scheme, and eventually bilked people who thought they would see major returns on their investments in Arizona real estate out of an eye-watering $82 million, federal authorities said.
Heinrichs, 41, led Anthology Real Estate, a firm in Boise that entices customers with the slogan, “Every person has a story, each story has a place—let’s write your story together.”
Heinrichs’ full story was finally revealed in March 2021 when he was indicted on four felony counts of fraudulent schemes, illegal control of an enterprise, theft, and conspiracy, the Idaho Statesman reports. The Statesman reports that Heinrichs and his business partner, Stephen J. Hatch, allegedly created over 30 business entities while managing 17 sets of books for the purchase of 13 properties between January 2005 and December 2014.
Heinrichs is accused of over-leveraging properties without telling investors, using investor funds to pay off other investors’ loans, and misleading investors about the value of their investments, among other alleged misdeeds.
A dermatologist in Boise, Dr. Richard Blickenstaff, stepped forward as one of the swindled victims of the alleged scheme. In documents he gave the Statesmen, he explained that he first invested $227,800 in one of Heinrichs’ ventures, and then another $100,000. Eventually, Heinrichs admitted the funds had been misappropriated, Blickenstaff said.
“When Blickenstaff asked him how he could have taken another $100,000 from him knowing there were improprieties and red flags with regard to fraud and mismanagement, he said ‘that is something I am struggling with,’” a letter from the Arizona attorney general’s office reads.
Blickenstaff explained that Heinrichs attended his family’s church and used connections like that to solicit investments. The AG letter on the defrauded dermatologist’s situation claimed, “[Heinrichs] told Blickenstaff that Hatch was a Christian, a man of impeccable character, had a long history of successful real estate ventures and had delivered promised return to investors in all of his previous projects.”
Some victims of the scheme organized as the Hatch/Heinrichs Victims Recovery Fund to try to recoup their losses and hold the alleged scammers accountable. In a court filing, the group allege Heinrichs advertised “that his company wanted to give an opportunity to ‘Christian families’ to invest,” and told them that “God was using their company to support missions and that they wanted to pass the blessing along to the ‘little guy’ who normally wouldn’t have an opportunity like this.”
Hatch, 72, pleaded guilty in 2017 to swindling these “little guys”—and got five years behind bars—but Heinrichs maintains that he is not guilty.
“Stephen Hatch is a con man who will spend the next five years behind bars for tricking Arizona families into investing in his Ponzi scheme,” Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said in June 2017. “Our Number 1 goal was to get justice for these families who were scammed out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Heinrichs’ trial is set to be scheduled in April, and the Statesman reports that he could face up to 69 years behind bars if found guilty.
“Out of respect for the legal process, we are not going to comment on the allegations against Mr. Heinrichs, except to say that he denies them,” Heinrichs’ lawyer, Anne Chapman, told the Statesman. “There are multiple sides to every story, and Mr. Heinrichs is allowing the legal process to take its course.”