Affinity fraud is the best way to steal money in Alabama, Securities Commission Director, Joseph Borg told participants in a fraud summit held Thursday at First Baptist Church.
“We see more scams going through churches than any other way,” he said.
At First Baptist Church in Birmingham, he said, three million dollars was stolen by a parishioner who offered to do free tax returns, then convinced members to invest with him.
“He even got the church to invest some money,” he said.
In Prattville, parishioners were convinced to put up the church’s collateral toward an investment.
“They lost four and a half million dollars,” Borg said. “The church was foreclosed.”
In another case pursued by the Alabama Securities Commission, investigators determined a scam was being run from a Tampa, Florida, church.
“They were promising to double your money in seventeen months, all in the name of God,” Borg said.
The church was in an old bank building and had armed guards. When law enforcement officers finally got in, they also found arms, ammunition, and the group’s plan for escape.
After seven weeks of trial, it was determined that five hundred and sixty-eight million dollars had been run through the church.
Borg believes, “More money is stolen in the name of God than any other way.”