Barry Minkow: biography of notorious con man-turned-pastor

Barry Minkow: biography of notorious con man-turned-pastor

Barry Minkow is a famous felon-turned-pastor who turned felon again in the US. The man became a billionaire in reverse after pleading guilty to defaming and extorting a Miami-based homebuilder called Lennar Corp in 2014. A judge in Florida gave him a five-year sentence. Lennar's case was the third time Barry was being convicted and sentenced to fraud-related cases.

Barry Minkow
Barry Jay Minkow started the ZZZZ Best in his parents' garage at age 16 and became a millionaire by age 21. Photo: @Yiannis Vlahantonis (modified by author)
Source: Facebook

Barry Minkow embezzled $3 million from the San Diego Community Bible Church's congregation. He stole $1.6 million in donations and took millions of dollars in unauthorized loans using the church's name. What was Barry Minkow's original business? His ZZZZ Best carpet cleaning company in Reseda collapsed in May 1987 as a result of fraud. Where is Barry Minkow today?

Barry Minkow's profile summary

  • Full name: Barry Jay Minkow
  • Famous as: Major One
  • Date of birth: 22nd March 1966
  • Place of birth: Inglewood, California, USA
  • Hometown: Crossville, Tennessee, USA
  • Age: 55 years old
  • Zodiac sign: Aries
  • Career: Former businessman and pastor
  • Church's name: San Diego Community Bible Church
  • Location: San Diego, USA
  • Type: Non-denominational charismatic church
  • Nationality: American
  • Ethnicity: Caucasian
  • Ancestral roots: Jewish
  • Parents: Carole and Robert Minkow
  • Siblings: Gail Foy
  • Sexual orientation: Straight
  • Marital status: Married
  • Spouse: Lisa
  • Children: 2
  • Net worth: Over $610 million in restitution

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Barry Minkow's biography

How old is Barry Minkow? Barry Minkow's age is 55 years. He was born on 17th March 1966 in Reseda, California, to a Jewish family. His parents are Carole and Robert Minkow. Barry Jay Minkow became famous nationwide in the 1980s as a millionaire teenager with a flourishing carpet-cleaning company in Reseda.

Barry Minkow
Barry's ZZZZ Best company turned out to be a Ponzi scheme cover-up. Photo: @Sandy Huffaker (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images

Jay earned a bachelors and master's degree from Liberty University in Virginia while in prison. CBS' TV host, Steve Krof, interviewed Barry Minkow in the 60 Minutes show, under the title, It Takes One To Know One.

Barry Minkow's film Con Man was released in March 2018. Its original name was Minkow. Other Barry Minkow's movies include Protecting Yourself from Affinity Fraud, Protecting Yourself from Elder Fraud, and Protecting Yourself from Investment Fraud. They were released in 2006.

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Who is Barry Minkow's wife?

He married Lisa in 2002, and the couple adopted Guatemalan twin sons Dylan Gene and Robert Irwin. The family lives in rural Crossville, Tennessee. They even had an Australian shepherd named Macho and two Siberian Huskies. So, what did Barry Minkow do?

Barry Minkow's fraud crimes

ZZZZ Best was a securities, credit card and mail fraud business. The company fabricated work orders to cover up its source of income while using money from new investors to pay off others. Jay stole more than $100 million from investors and banks.

At age 23, Jay was found guilty of 57 federal felonies and was sentenced to 25 years in jail. The court ordered him to pay the victims of his schemes $26 million out of his future earnings. Jay served seven years and was released on parole in 1995.

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Barry Minkow
Barry got a 25-years- jail sentence for committing 57 federal felonies through ZZZZ Best company. Photo: @Sandy Huffaker
Source: Getty Images

After Oprah hosted Barry Minkow on her show to talk about his looting case, the public nicknamed him a wunderkind of Wall Street. He became a pastor of the Community Bible Church in San Diego, California, in 1997, a fraud investigator, and a tipster to journalists in 2001.

Jay established the Fraud Discovery Institute, which helped the FBI, Securities and Exchange Commission, and other organizations catch fraudsters in publicly traded companies and shut down at least 20 Ponzi schemes.

Minkow would manipulate the stock prices of the companies he was investigating. He did this for over a decade but got exposed when he started working for Nicolas Marsch, a California estate developer. Around November 2008, Jay agreed with Marsch to extort Lennar and manipulate the public securities markets.

In January 2009, Jay broadcast false statements about Lennar, which made his company lose more than $580 million in stock. Barry Minkow's net worth was $90 million in the '80s when he still had ZZZZ Best company.

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When Jay was a pastor, he tricked a widower into donating $75,000 for a hospital in Sudan to honour his wife who died of cancer. The pastor pocketed the money and also stole $300,000 from a widowed grandmother raising a teenage granddaughter.

In 2014, Lennar Corp won the $584 million case, meaning that Jay will have to pay this amount plus interest. What is Barry Minkow doing now? He cannot repay the $584 million since the court gave him a 5-year-jail term.

Barry Minkow
After getting out of jail in 1995 and serving as a pastor for more than a decade, Barry landed for more years in prison in 2014 for defrauding Lennar Corp's real estate company. Photo: @Sandy Huffaker
Source: Getty Images

Jay could owe Lennar up to a billion USDs as years go by, thus making himself a billionaire in reverse. Barry Minkow's net worth in 2021 is more than $610 million in restitution if he never paid his Ponzi scheme victims the $26 million.

Barry Minkow's books

Barry Minkow's sister, Gail Foy, confirmed that he wrote two books about his life in crime; Cleaning Up (2005) and Down, but Not Out: 10 Steps for Rebuilding Your Life, Your Career, And All That Other Stuff (2007). CNBC discussed Barry Minkow's life in the American Greed segment.

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There are many videos about Barry Minkow on YouTube. Google has millions of "Barry Minkow 2021" and "Barry Minkow 2020" searches because his story sounds like something out of a movie to the world. Nevertheless, the man deserves some respect for owning up to his mistakes.

READ ALSO: Tim Durham: What happened to the millionaire Playboy of Indiana? touched on Tim Durham's life. Lucky Dube was right when he said in his song, Prisoner, that crime does not pay.

The former attorney is now rotting in jail. What led him to crime?


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