A struck-off solicitor turned financial advisor has been jailed for six years over a £1.4m fraud.
David Vaughan Jones, 78, of Welshpool, Powys, admitted 24 charges in October last year after his fake offshore investment scam was uncovered.
A founder member of the Evangelical Church in Newtown, Mold Crown Court heard he used his position to help carry out the fraud.
Despite promising to repay the stolen cash - not a penny has been returned.
"David Jones is an educated man who applied his intelligence to running a financial scam," Nicola Rees from the Crown Prosecution Service said after sentencing on Tuesday.
Jones had been struck-off the solicitors' register in the 1990s by The Law Society, which led him to become a tax consultant, despite having no qualifications in that field.
He then persuaded his victims to pay into offshore investment funds he recommended, but was using some of that cash to pay other clients to keep up the appearance of running a legitimate investment scheme.
"He knew from the outset that they were not paying into legitimate investments and he lied to them, using his influence within the community and on occasions as a family friend to maintain the pretence," added Ms Rees.
Sentencing had been delayed after Jones claimed the defrauded money was being kept in a Channel Islands account, and could be repaid.
The amount came to £1,495,000 in total.
But the court heard that despite asking for details of the bank accounts of his victims so that money could be returned, they had received nothing.
Judge Niclas Parry said the only conclusion he could come to that the funds did not exist.
"The reality is that over a period in excess of 20 years you were responsible for thefts and frauds from 12 victims - amounting to nearly £1.5 million," the judge said.
"Decent people felt utterly betrayed and astonished and the level of your deception."
A proceeds of crime investigation will now be carried out, in a bid to recover the stolen cash.