WWII veteran victim of fraud scheme by alleged 'Christian' company

Five men were arrested in connection with a scheme to defraud a 92-year-old World War II veteran of more than $300,000 in retirement funds, U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani announced.

The suspects, identified as Lenel Hopkins, 52; Antoinette Monique Hopkins, 42; Alichia Webster, 60; Neil John Halvorson, 65; and Victor Evans Jr., 70, were arrested in Alabama and Florida but are set to appear before a judge in Houston for their arraignments.

The defendants and their company, Ternion Group International LLC, also known as Ternion Training and Education Center Corporation, face charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud.

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According to the indictment, Ternion marketed itself as a "Christian" international investment group involved in construction projects and job training for believers. They allegedly promised investors significant returns and ownership stakes in local development projects in return for large deposits into Ternion.

Ternion designated investors as "hubs," using the investors' addresses as physical locations for the hubs, court documents state. Investors were led to believe they would receive millions of dollars in return for their investments, but according to the charges, they never received any returns.

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One victim, a 92-year-old WWII veteran, was persuaded to invest $300,000 with the promise of a $13 million return. The funds were allegedly intended for building a vocational school and buying 100 homes. However, the indictment alleges that Evans used the victim's money to draw a salary instead.

Halvorson is also accused of manipulating the veteran into creating a new will that gave Evans successor rights and power of attorney over the victim's property, bank accounts, and contracts. He also allegedly used a medical power of attorney to sign a do-not-resuscitate order for the victim.

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The victim has not received any of the promised returns and has not heard from anyone at Ternion since 2020. Furthermore, the property designated for the project's site is privately owned and not for sale, the indictment claims.

If convicted, each defendant could face up to 20 years in federal prison and fines up to $250,000 per count.

The FBI led the investigation, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Laurence Goldman is prosecuting the case. This case is part of the Elder Justice Initiative, which aims to combat elder abuse, neglect, and financial fraud targeting older adults.