Shrine of Dreams

Melchizedek’s Dominion


There is a connected group of con men out to fleece everyone they can. These con men have a nation: the Dominion of Melchizedek. This is about that nation and these con men.

David Evan Pedley was a con man. He taught his son Mark to be a con man. Together they wrote a new Bible and created a nation. They also swindled millions of dollars from people.

David Pedley was part of a loose organization of a hundred or so con men that came together after the Second World War. During the 1960s this group specialized in “Prime Bank Securities”, a non-existent class of investments. Chief among these criminals was Dr. Clifford Noe. (That’s right, Dr. No.) Noe was finally busted in 1972. Wall Street Journal reporter Jonathan Kwitny described this organization in his book The Fountain Pen Conspiracy. In that book, Kwitny called David Pedley “the world’s greatest con man”.

Pedley was indicted on several charges and served a few years in jail. After testifying against an organized crime family associated with some of his schemes, he was taken into a witness protection program in 1975 and given the name David Wellington. He was moved to California where he teamed up with his son in a real estate-based scam that also involved a former state Deputy Attorney General. Facing numerous indictments, the Pedleys fled to Mexico. For a time these two ran a money-laundering racket based on an imaginary off-shore bank. Mark Pedley was arrested and deported for a visa violation. Soon, David was incarcerated in a Mexican jail. It was there that he began writing The Melchizedek Bible.

David Pedley (center) in his Mexican prison, 1985. Doesn't look like your idea of a nasty Mexican prison, does it?

In the 1940s and ’50s, David Pedley had taken lessons from Dr. Josiah Merriman, a Christian Science mystic who promoted a system based around Melchizedek, a priest mentioned twice in the Old Testament and several times in Hebrews. Over the centuries, Melchizedek has been cited by Jewish and Christian mystics as some kind or other of special being ranging from Excellent Priest to Jesus In Person.

Christian Science mysticism is, well, pretty mystical. Mary Baker Eddy emphasized spiritual truth over material evidence — “Mind” over matter — which can be a very useful tenet to a con man. After all, if reality is what we believe rather than what we can sense, than those imagined Prime Bank Securities are real. At any rate Pedley re-wrote the King James Bible (or “re-translated” it) to reflect this concept. The first part of Genesis does not refer to God creating the world of matter, it’s a metaphor for divine revelation. Or something like that.

While David was working on his holy task, Mark was in and out of jail. During the times when he was in, Mark also participated in correcting the errors in the King James Bible. By 1986, the father and son writing team had finished the important parts of this work: Genesis, Exodus, Matthew, and Revelation which was published as The Melchizedek Bible. But it was also during this time that Mark and David came up with the idea of creating a nation. Of course they named it after Melchizedek, but at this point, the country was only a name, it had no territory.

David died in 1987. At least there is an official death certificate for him from that year. When his body was received in California, Mark refused to allow authorities to fingerprint it. Some law enforcement officers believe that David never died and is still out there today, conning people. The Dominion of Melchisedek has an ambiguous comment: “…certain government regulators doubt that David is really dead. Perhaps they are correct, since good never dies.”

Mark Pedley's 1991 mugshot.

Mark was finally paroled in 1990. Immediately he changed his name to Tzemach ben David Netzer Korem. Later, this became Branch Vinedresser, which is, Mark says, the translation. He also operated as David Korem and, probably, other identities. Very soon after being paroled, he went back into defrauding people and was quickly busted for parole violations. Released in 1993, Mark married Elvira Gamboa ( AKA Pearlsasia and forty or so other aliases). These two set about finding territory for the Dominion of Melchizedek. Gamboa became its first president. The idea was that the DoM was an “ecclesiastical state”, like the Vatican, even though Pedley has been careful not to push an official Melchizedekan cult.

Over the years there have been several locations for this imaginary nation: Karitane Atoll that is underwater half the day, a slice of Antarctica that seemed unclaimed [see end of post for more], an island off South America composed entirely of guano (is that a metaphor or what?), and so on and so forth. Official entities from Fiji, the Marshall Islands, and many other places have denied that the Dominion of Melchizedek exists even though it claims to be situated in their territory. Here’s one location, Taongi or Ratak Atoll in the Marshall Islands group:

That's a GoogleEarth view of Ratak atoll which encloses what must be a pretty lagoon. The strip of land on the east is, at its widest, 750 meters across. The atoll is uninhabited.

Why bother with all this? Well, if you have a nation you can issue currency and license banks and incorporate businesses. You can give legitimacy to organizations and institutions. If all else fails, you can sell passports. In 1998, three men who claimed a connection with Melchizedek were caught selling passports in the Phillipines for as much as $3500 each. The trio had cleared more than a million dollars in two years. One, an Australian who was already famous for a race horse fraud, escaped. The other two went to jail for a while. Mark Pedley made an official Melchizedekean announcement that anyone connected with the fraud would be removed from office in that nation. 

Branch Vinedresser alias Mark Pedley

By that time, the Dominion of Melchizedek was fairly well known to law enforcement who, time and again, made unequivocal statements that the nation was a phony and investors should steer away from any scheme connected with it. But during the 1990s, several places were fooled and actually accepted Melchizedekan passports. Mark Pedley travelled to Fiji on one and was thus able to say that Fiji recognized his nation.

Oh, yes, this is all an amusing farce and hipsters can buy a flashy cool passport to show their friends and be in on the joke. Pedley doesn’t mind a straight-faced joke or two. The quote above about his father’s death, for instance, or, after claiming a wedge of Antarctica, the list of Melchizedek’s officials changing to include a M. Pinguin. And I bet he thought it was amusing to declare war on France when they commenced nuclear testing near Ratak and then to claim victory when the tests ended two days early. It’s easy to laugh at other people being fooled and they had too much money anyway and you can’t fool an honest man and so on. But you might reflect that those folks scraping together the money for Melchizdekan passports were looking for a way to travel to places where they could earn a living as chambermaids and janitors.

But let’s look at a Melchizedekan con man and some of his games. Oregonian Gilbert Allen Ziegler (alias Van Arthur Brink) has engaged in a number of curious operations. In the 1980s Allen was involved with various religious organizations, especially the Helping Hands Ministries and the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship that he controlled. In 1994 Gilbert was bankrupt but found a new start in Hawaii thanks to $25000 he inveigled from an Oregon woman. He created an investment scheme that brought in cash — he was promising 250% returns — and quickly parlayed this nest egg into enough to buy a Nauru banking license for $50000. [The above and what follows, except where otherwise linked, is from One Big Fib: The Incredible Story of the Fraudulent First International Bank of Grenada by Owen Platt.]

Gilbert Ziegler

Nauru is a place with less than 8000 residents — the Vatican is the only country on earth with fewer people — but for a little while it made enough from selling phosphate reserves — guano mostly — so that everyone thought they were rich. When the phosphate boom ended, Nauru turned to money laundering and scam-sheltering. Lots of bad banks were licensed in Nauru. But here is the thing, any official bank licensed anywhere has cachet in international finance.

The Fidelity International Bank of Nauru was an entry and a learning stage for Ziegler. He assembled a team and learned something about banking. The Nauru bank was a class “B” institution, meaning that a class “A” bank was overseeing its operation, so Ziegler had to take some care not to do anything too outrageous. He targeted Christians, claiming a new kind of bank that was out to help rather than exploit. And, so long as he was class “B”, opportunties to exploit were limited. All this was just experience. Ziegler and his team aimed at creating a class “A” bank where they could rip to their heart’s content. Enter Grenada.

Grenada is a small country best-known for being invaded by Ronald Reagan when it threatened to form a commie government. After that, Grenada went whole-hog capitalist and became the launching pad for many not-so-legitimate enterprises. It wasn’t that hard for Ziegler to set up a bank there, especially after showed his credentials from the Dominion of Melchizedek who had appointed him Melchizedek’s Ambassador to the Caribbean.

So the First International Bank of Grenada was capitalized by the Dominion of Melchizedek. It’s not that hard. It’s just a process of getting the government (of Melchizedek) to recognize the worth of whatever you’re selling, they give you some paper and you’re rockin’. In one case worthless land in Arizona was valued at millions of dollars by Melchizedek to further one of the Pedley/Gamboa schemes. In this case Melchizedek pledged billions of dollars and a carved ruby that was priceless as well as non-existent, just like the billions.

So the First International Bank of Grenada was set up and immediately began an investment program that drew in millions of dollars. Of course, this was a ponzi scheme. On top of it the bank also had a pyramid scheme, where people being scammed were rewarded for bringing in new investors, and a series of motivational programs meant to suck you in another way. Investors who became a little anxious were remined that the bank was protected by the Investors Deposit Insurance Company and was, like all banks, audited. Few investors realized that the IDIC was also part of the fraudulent banking network based in Melchizedek and that the auditor was a CPA who had lost his license. The FIBG was lucrative enough to spawn other projects and sub-licensed about thirty-five other Grenada banks, all of them scams.

People did become suspicious and David Marchant, who publishes an on-line newsletter looking at overseas investments, was just about certain that FIBG and its offspring banks were scams. Pressure mounted and finally Ziegler decamped for Africa, where he had formed some connections. When FIBG failed satellite banks also went under. Grenada’s banking system collapsed and did not recover for years. Some $375 Milion vanished.

 When Grenada’s Bank of World Peace, founded by an ex-Transcendental Mediation guru named Taansen Sumeru, and its prime investment opportunity, Quantum Gold, disintegrated, Sumeru shrugged and said it was all due to “dark forces”.  Sumeru had written a book on Sovereignty Consciousness, the notion that you are your own country if only you realize it — that sounds much like Mind over matter to me.

Anyway, in 1999 while authorities in Grenada were still dithering about what to do, Ziegler set up shop in Uganda. There he got a plum assignment. [What follows is from Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa by Jason Stearns.]
Laurent Kabila had recently won control of Congo but Rwanda was unhappy with him and sought a replacement. Then Vice-President Paul Kagame of Rwanda created the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD) in 1998 as a front for armed intervention in the neighboring country. An idealistic and well-meaning man, Earnest Wamba, was made leader of the RCD. Wamba wanted to better living conditions in the Congo by investing in health, eduction, and infrastructure. Instead, he was leader of a group controlled by foreign powers that massacred thousands and looted every place they occupied. In desperation Wamba sought outside investment and discovered Gilbert Ziegler.

Earnest Wamba 1998

It’s interesting to ponder the spectacle of a representitive of a fictitious government’s non-existent bank negotiating with the leader of a non-existent revolution that, if successful, would set up a puppet government. Anyway,  you know what’s going to happen. Ziegler uses his official position to raise money that never goes to the Congolese. Wamba, at first irrelevant, then farcical, loses sight of his goals. Surrounded by child soldiers, he gives speeches about protecting children. In 1999 he is chased out of office. The endless agony that is the war for central Africa continues.

The point here is that Ziegler sucked profit from all this misery and that, I think, typifies the con men and women based in the Dominion of Melchizedek. These people are neither nice nor amusing.  Ziegler was finally extradited and charged in the US. He died in prison, awaiting trial, in 2005.
Meanwhile, Mark Pedley and his wife continued their various thieveries. In 1994 a so-called 60-40 scheme fell apart in England and then the Inner Sanctum investment group (registered in Melchizedek) behind it after someone calling himself His Serene Highness Gerald-Dennis Sayn-Wittgenstein-Hohenstein was revealed as a fraud. Scams in the West Indies, Hong Kong, and the US came to light, all with a connection to the Dominion of Melchizedek. Officially, the DoM was very upset and liquidated a bank or two of the many that they licensed and distanced itself from con men like Jeff Reynolds, Melchizedek’s Secretary of Commerce, when he was jailed for insurance fraud. Finally, in 2010, Mark Pedley was jailed in Florida for a penny-stock fraud.

The way the fraud worked was that a whole lot of stock was issued based on worthless mining claims. The shares were then sold for pennies until enough people were on the hook, then a few hundred shares were bought for $5 each. The jump in stock prices seemed to indicate a jump in value so people bought a lot until Pedley and his accomplices sold their shares at an inflated price. They were set to make hundreds of thousands when the authorities moved in.

Elvira Gamboa continues the Melchizedek operation. She has been investigated since 1995 and has managed to avoid prosecution. She is a very spiritual person, she assures everyone, it was her ex-husband, Mark Pedley, who committed the crimes and she is shocked, shocked to hear about his depradations. The state of California continues to pursue an indictment against her which has caused Gamboa to declare “spiritual war” on the state.

”]”]The organization of con men that Zwitny identified still operates. In reading about the Pedleys and Melchizedek the same names crop up again and again. Con men have longevity:  in 2002, a 74-year-old Dr. Noe was convicted of fraud, thirty years after Zwitny first wrote about him. Mark Pedley is due to be released from his Florida cell this June.


Besides everything linked above here is an enormous amount of information presented in as confusing a way as possible. But if you skim and sift there is a lot in the link.

More on Antarctica:

Here’s a map of Antarctica with international claims. The Dominion of Melchizedek claims the territory between 90 and 150 degrees W. On this map that is shown as claimed by the Republic of New Lemuria. Hmmmm….

Say! I notice that New Lemuria speaks of itself in the same exact words as the Dominion of Melchizedek — ecclesiastical sovereignty and so on. Created 1994, the Republic also has land in… What! Taongi? Karitane Atoll? So the Republic of Lemuria claims all the territory that Melchizedek does; is it a splinter scam? Virtual war? I would like for this to be a secret artists’ coup ousting the criminals but then I hear that New Lemuria is the base for a Prophecy Research Institute that gives psychic investment advice and I know there’s no hope.