Look at that. Two in a row...we must be doing alright this month. No, but seriously, last week was a blur and I have no idea what happened yesterday. Maybe we should start journaling again, and by we, I mean I. At least that way I'd have a concrete way to recall the week's events. Old age is rough, I can barely remember my own name half the time. Time for some memory enhancers. But onto this week's topic.
Ephren Taylor Steals Churgoers' Life Savings
What can we say about Ephren Taylor, other than he's a lowlife who swindled $16 million from members of several megachurches across the country? Promising them 20% returns, they gave him their life savings for investments into community-building programs like housing projects, shopping centers, and juices bars.
According to him, he made his first million at 16 by inventing video games. He sold one to a gaming company and became a millionaire which led him to become a socially conscious investor. He parlayed his experience into becoming a public speaker and financial advisor who began speaking at churches, gaining investors from the congregations.
This type of scheme is called affinity fraud in which a scammer targets people who are members of a specific group such as religious groups, community members, or families. Everyone trusts each other, and in the church, the pastor, who has invited to scammer into the pulpit, is the most trustworthy person. They wouldn't lead the flock astray. But, eventually, the scammer gets away with his misdeeds because there's no accountability to anyone.
It was all a Ponzi scheme, however, and Taylor used investors' money to fund his lifestyle: paying bills, car payments, and apartment rent. He even went as far as to fund his wife Meshelle's aspirations of being a pop star, paying for studio time, and a music video called "Billionaire (I don't care). Check out the talent on Mrs. Taylor!
At one point Taylor paid out dividends to investors, but soon he was in the wind. When investors came looking for him, he went as far as to bolt office doors so he wouldn't have to account for the whereabouts of their money. Well, the SEC couldn't have that. It launched an investigation into Taylor and discovered his dastardly deeds, and needless to say, Taylor was in its crosshairs.
By 2010 his scheme came crashing in and he went into hiding. But his wife's vanity led authorities to him.
Once apprehended Taylor was charged with fraud, and ultimately sentenced to 20 years in prison. He was also sentenced to pay more than $15 million in reparations to his victims. It's unlikely they'll see that money, however since Ephren Taylor is a liar.
Stay tuned for next week when Sunni will bring us the story of another bastard who's robbed people of their hard-earned money.
Until then...don't get scammed.