The Pastor Who Launched His Own Crypto Is At It Again In Zambia

A pastor's crypto leaves investors hanging on God's word

By: André Beganski

April 11, 2024

Exodus Okeye, 33, is losing faith in INDXcoin as time goes on.

The father in Nigeria referred dozens of people to the cryptocurrency project purportedly inspired by God, earning him a share of tokens tied to the Lord’s name. On top of that, he invested $50 into the offering last year, which was equivalent, for him, to a month's take-home pay.

“Last year, my family needed money for so many things, and I was hoping that this thing will come out, so I will have some money to take care of my family,” he said of the cryptocurrency’s ill-fated launch last year. “I still hope that one day I'm going to get my money back.”

Okeye said his window to trade INDXcoin swiftly closed last November when an exchange built for the asset inexplicably shut down. He stands among more than 300 people who invested $3.4 million in INDXcoin, an “essentially worthless” cryptocurrency created by Denver pastor Eli Regalado, according to a civil complaint filed by the Colorado Division of Securities in January.

While promoting INDXcoin to Christians and members of their online church, Victorious Grace, Regalado and his wife allegedly misappropriated $1.3 million, amid falsehoods about INDXcoin’s safety and a trading platform called the Kingdom Wealth Exchange. In a since-deleted video, Regalado addressed accusations of misconduct — providing one main reason for his embattled crypto scheme. God.

“The charges are that Kaitlyn and I pocketed $1.3 million, and I just want to come out and say that those charges are true,” he said. “Half a million dollars went to the IRS and a few hundred thousand dollars went to a home remodel that the Lord told us to do.”

Throughout INDXcoin’s existence, Regalado has told investors that God is speaking through him, and God has chosen him to “give them a 10x.” But trouble emerged for the pastor when the Colorado regulator placed scrutiny on him in January. Initially, Regalado said he was prepared for a legal fight but missed a court date weeks later. And his home remodeling –  started in God’s name – appears to have been abandoned for months.

“We’re going to go to court and argue our case,” he said in the since-deleted video. “God is not done with INDXCoin. Join us, and just believe and receive everything that God has said about this project.”

Regalado declined to comment on INDXcoin, the lawsuit, or God. So, Coinage traveled to Denver to see what could be found at his church (and house) – uncovering remnants of a holy foray into crypto gone awry. 

Eli Regalado responds to a civil complaint filed in January. Image: Eli Regalado
Eli Regalado responds to a civil complaint filed in January. Image: Eli Regalado

‘Why am I in Zambia?’

In Denver District Court, a court hearing was held at the beginning of the year to review a temporary restraining order against the Regalados, which was granted in January and included an asset freeze, among other restrictions. However, both Regalados were absent at the hearing where Judge David Goldberg described the case as an example of “egregious greed.”

Instead, the Denver pastor was spotted in Africa that week. And social media posts from Gifted Faith Ministry’s Glory Shift Conference show Eli Regalado preaching at the religious gathering in Zambia about the intersection of God, crypto, and finances, as reported by The Denver Post

“Why of all places am I in Zambia?” Regalado asks in one video posted online. “I love it. This is amazing But … we could’ve gone to the Bahamas and saved a few hours.”

Between bible verses and backstory about his relationship with God, Regalado tells attendees that God’s true believers “will eat the wealth of nations.” Minutes later, Regalado warns of Satan’s capacity to “steal, to kill, and to destroy,” including the devil’s ability to convince people that they “don’t need to put anything in the offering” that’s extended to them through God.

While Regalado doesn’t mention INDXcoin in the videos posted online, he mentions being gifted “a whole world of cryptocurrency,” and it appears the pastor’s sermons aren’t included entirely. Comparing investing to planting, however, he does reference an abundance of growth that could stem from the attendees’ actions before one stream cuts to another speaker. During the video, Regalado tells the conference’s attendees that an invitation to attend was extended by the Faith Ministry Pastor Yvonne Ngambi.

“The plowman is going to start overtaking the reaper, and it’s going to start happening faster, and faster, and faster,” he says. “All it takes is for a couple of you in this church — your pastor is one of them — to start enacting on these principles.”

According to the Colorado regulator’s complaint, Regalado sought access to parishioners at several churches by arranging meetings with pastors and offering them incentives to invest in INDXcoin.

While preaching about the benefits of believing in the Lord, Regalado also mentions a “large, six-figure” harvest that had ripened for him and his wife before they had “even put the seed in the ground.” Regalado then attributes the unexpected windfall to his steadfast faith in God.

“Lord, we haven’t even sewn this seed. How is this possible?’ Regalado purportedly asked, to which God responded, “You take me at my word, [and] I will take you at yours.”

The Gifted Faith Ministry did not respond to requests for comment from Coinage.

Eli Regalado preaches at a conference in Zambia in February. Image: Gifted Faith Ministries International
Eli Regalado preaches at a conference in Zambia in February. Image: Gifted Faith Ministries International

‘A Really Potent Mix’

Though cryptocurrencies have been around for less than two decades, affinity fraud is something that has happened throughout time, according to Colorado Securities Commissioner Tung Chan. At the end of the day, she said it’s a type of misconduct that boils down to human behavior.

On a basic level, people have to trust each other to survive, and affinity fraud is predicated upon using “the relationships that bind us together” to perpetrate fraud, she said, whether that’s affiliated religious groups or any other association one may have. 

“They were leaders in an online church, and they went to other pastors, and said, ‘Give me your list of names of your members,’” Chan said of the Regalados in an interview. “I think there was a trust that he was part of this community and that he could be someone who was helping them.”

Speaking on her behalf, Chan suggested investors could tap a third-party investment advisor to prevent personal connections from muddying their portfolios. At the same time, crypto tech is fast and far-reaching — instantly touching all corners of the globe, including regions where investor resources may be scarce. 

Beyond enforcement actions, Chan said licensing and registration and investor education is key to keeping capital markets healthy in the U.S. For example, a pathway exists in Colorado for decentralized autonomous organizations, or DAOs, to become registered co-ops in the state, such as SporkDAO, the community-owned organization that holds ETHDenver annually.

“On the one hand, there's enforcement after the money's gone,” she said. “But on the other side, you have the two other prongs, which is licensing and registration, but also investor education.”

In terms of what justice would look like for INDXcoin’s investors, Chan said targets of financial fraud are often not made whole, and they probably won’t get all there money back. But beyond what could be potentially recovered, Chan said, “Hopefully, we'll get some justice in making sure he's prosecuted successfully.”

Eli Regalado's Denver home appears abandoned in March. Image: Coinage
Eli Regalado's Denver home appears abandoned in March. Image: Coinage

‘Me and My House’

At the Regalado’s home in Denver, a cease and desist letter that's been taped to its unfinished exterior suggests the couple’s aforementioned home remodeling had come to a standstill by March — alongside a pile of wood planks and packs of rusted framing nails in the home’s front yard.

Fixed to a sheet of particle board, the cease and desist letter from the City and County of Denver is dated December and details a suspected violation for construction without a permit. Scrawled in marker on the house as well: several bible verses extolling one’s home alongside the words, “I’m coming for you.”

“Enlarge the place of your tent; Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not; Lengthen your cords. And strengthen your pegs,” one verse stated. “As for me and my house, we will soon save the Lord,” another read. 

According to two of the Regalado’s neighbors, Mark and Kazuko Uchida, the Regalados haven’t been home in around 10 months. The strongest indicator that the couple has been gone is two large, “extravagant” mobile homes that have been absent in their driveway since then, the Uchidas said.

In addition to remodeling the home, the Regalado’s allegedly spent investor funds on luxury handbags, cosmetic dentistry, snowmobile adventures, and other expenses, according to the Colorado regulator’s complaint — allegedly ensuring that “the investors will never recoup their funds because [the Regalados] took the investment money for their own benefit.”

“He seemed nice enough,” Mark said. “But they just kind of projected this air of being very wealthy, which made us kind of question, ‘Why move here?’”

While Mark’s contact with Regalado was limited, the Denver native thought his career involved “some sort of charity work.” Mark wasn’t aware that he was living next to a pastor, nor that his neighbor’s online church operated out of the residence at times — even though Mark thinks he knows his neighbor better now.

“I understand he was actually a minister or something … but he never conveyed that,” he said. “That to me is appalling that people would use religion to scam people out of their life savings.”


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