Colorado crypto-pastor and wife hawk worthless scheme to followers, spend $1.3 million living it up, but wait: 'the Lord told us to'

A man reaches for dollars that will be forever out of reach.
(Image credit: SIphotography via Getty)

Coloradan pastor Eli Regalado and his wife have been accused of marketing a near-worthless cryptocurrency, INDXcoin, to their followers and essentially pocketing the proceeds. But then, the Lord told them to.

The Colorado Division of Securities, per NBC News, said Regalado claimed God had told him people would become wealthy if they invested in the cryptocurrency fraud scheme. It says INDXcoin raised around $3.2 million, and at least $1.3 million of that went straight to the Regalados or was spent "for their own personal benefit", per a complaint filed earlier this week in Denver County District Court (where most of the victims were located).

In a video statement posted to followers last week, Eli Regalado admitted the charges of trousering $1.3 million "are true" and "out of the $1.3 [million], half a million dollars went to the IRS, and a few hundred thousand dollars went to a home remodel the Lord told us to do."

The Lord moves in mysterious ways, of course. "We took God at his word and sold a cryptocurrency with no clear exit," said Regalado. "What we're believing still is that God is going to do a miracle. God is going to work a miracle in the financial sector."

The complaint alleges that the money also went on a Range Rover, luxury goods, an au pair, boat rentals, and jewelry. The couple are charged with violating anti-fraud provisions under the Colorado Securities Act. 

Regalado told followers that God had told him they'd become wealthy if they invested in INDXcoin, promoting it as a low-risk investment with high returns. In reality INDXcoin was, in the words of the Colorado Securities Division, "illiquid and practically worthless."

The online-only Victorious Grace Church was the vehicle for this scheme, and has only two staff: Regalado and his wife. In August 2021 Regalado told followers in a video that "the Lord brought this cryptocurrency to me. He said, ‘Take this to my people for a wealth transfer.’"

It's easy enough to laugh at this stuff, but from June 2022 to April 2023 INDXcoin raised $3.2 million. Part of its success was down to Regalado spinning tales to investors about how the cryptocurrency scheme would help causes including widows and orphans, of which there is no evidence.

"We allege that Mr. Regalado took advantage of the trust and faith of his own Christian community," said Colorado Securities Commissioner Tung Chan, "and that he peddled outlandish promises of wealth to them when he sold them essentially worthless cryptocurrencies.

"They specifically went out to the Christian community, and there’s a lot of references to scripture and faith. He cloaks himself in that to get people to give their money to him. That’s really heartbreaking for the people who trusted him."

Eli Regalado, his wife and his companies are charged with securities fraud, unlicensed broker-dealer activity, selling unregistered securities and imposition of constructive trust. They'll appear in court next week.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."