There’s lots of scams out there targeting churches, according to a new article from the Assoicated Press. Here’s the first couple of paragraphs, head there for the rest and beware!
Randall W. Harding sang in the choir at Crossroads Christian Church in Corona, Calif., and donated part of his conspicuous wealth to its ministries. In his business dealings, he underscored his faith by naming his investment firm JTL, or “Just the Lord.” Pastors and churchgoers alike entrusted their money to him.
By the time Harding was unmasked as a fraud, he and his partners had stolen more than $50 million from their clients, and Crossroads became yet another cautionary tale in what investigators say is a worsening problem plaguing the nation’s churches.
Billions of dollars has been stolen in religion-related fraud in recent years, according to the North American Securities Administrators Association, a group of state officials who work to protect investors. Between 1984 and 1989, about $450 million was stolen in religion-related scams, the association says. In its latest count – from 1998 to 2001 – the toll had risen to $2 billion. Rip-offs have only become more common since.
“The size and the scope of the fraud is getting larger,” said Patricia truck, president of the securities association and administrator of the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, Division of Securities. “The scammers are getting smarter and the investors don’t ask enough questions because of the feeling that they can be safe in church.”