The Scientologist Who Screwed the Hollywood Elite

Reed Slatkin engineered one of the greatest Ponzi schemes in history, in the name of Scientology and to line his own pocket.

Josie Klakström


Photo by Mackenzie Marco on Unsplash

Investment guru and former minister of the Church of Scientology, Reed Slatkin, used his connections to swindle 800 clients out of nearly $600 million, and he started with those closest to him; his church group.

Born in Detroit in 1949, Slatkin lost his father at a young age. His uncle took over guardianship and soon introduced him to Scientology, and in 1975, Slatkin became an ordained church minister.

The role didn’t last long, and by 1984, Slatkin was a full-time financial investor. He leaned heavily on his friends within the church to guide their investments under The Reed Slatkin Investment Club.

The group of church members were giving their friend hundreds of thousands of dollars, and some had even invested up to $10million in whatever stocks Slatkin told them about.

Alongside his church friends, there was a growing number of Scientology members who were also actors, like Giovanni Ribisi, who sought Slatkin’s counsel. Offering his financial advice to celebrities, he got many to invest, and this grew his friend circle and, most importantly, his status among the elite. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Kevin Costner even knew who Slatkin was, though it’s unknown whether they invested.

In 1994, a church member, Kevin O’Donnell, introduced Slatkin to a man named Sky Dayton, a young entrepreneur and fellow Scientologist. The 23-year-old wanted to build software that made it easier to connect to the internet, and he was looking for investment. The pair founded EarthLink Networks, an internet service provider, with Slatkin’s $75,000 investment and an additional sum from O’Donnell.

He grew so rich that he bought houses on a ranch in Santa Barbara. By this point, Slatkin had a wife, Mary Jo, and sons, Brett and Brad.

“Hope Ranch is quite beautiful, very exclusive. He even bought the house next door, where he kept the gardeners and other workers,” explained one of Slatkin’s former friends in the New York Post. “He wanted his house to be clean of all that stuff. To buy one…



Josie Klakström

Josie is a freelance journo who writes about writing, true crime, culture and marketing.