His, the thief’s, appearance is“normal” ; that is, he looks like the people from whom he is stealing. The swindler embraces the values of his target marks.
In the case of the Greater Ministries International swindle, the marks were mostly fundamentalist Christians, anti-government fringe groups, and ‘horse & buggy’ Amish and Mennonites. There were thousands and thousands of them.
There is not a lot of documentation on the early life of Gerald Payne, the principal thief in this story.
Payne was apparently born in 1936 in Tampa, Florida. It has been reported that Payne was raised in Tampa. He worked as a painter, and also worked with his father in a small contracting company the senior Payne owned called Servco.
In 1979, at the age of 43, Payne found himself in New York City. That year, he spent five weeks on Riker’s Island, New York’s city jail, after pleading guilty to lying to a federal grand jury. The grand jury was investigating bankruptcy fraud against a former Payne employer.
Payne was a repairman at a bankrupt warehouse company, D.H. Overmyer Co. Payne was convicted on 12 counts of perjury. The indictment showed each count of 25 original perjury counts against Payne involved Payne’s role in preparing or submitting invoices against the company.
Sometime in the 1980s, Gerald Payne said he found religion and moved back home to Tampa. He became preacher.
Gerald Payne was a preacher who kept a gun in his boots.
Gerald Payne said that God spoke to him and revealed the idea for his money-doubling plan.