Eddie Long Accused in Ponzi Scheme

Church members say that he used his influence to force them to participate. 

Posted:
 
snapshot202011102120020140

Bishop Eddie Long, senior pastor of Atlanta's New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, has been accused in a civil lawsuit in Georgia of encouraging church members to invest in a "Ponzi scheme" that promised 20 percent annual returns on safe investments but instead diverted their money to a failing company.

Plaintiffs -- 10 members of the church -- say that Long hosted "Wealth Tour Live" seminars, during which an entrepreneur and another firm recruited investors for the scheme, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Long, of course, reached an out-of-court settlement with four young men who accused him of sexual coercion in May. They are now planning a tell-all book.

But this case involves an entirely different pattern of conduct. It's one of the highest-profile accusations to date of so-called religious-affinity fraud, in which potential investors are targeted through a faith-based organization.

The embattled pastor and his church are accused of using their "confidential/fiduciary relationship" to "coerce" 10 church members into investing with Ephren Taylor Jr., the former chief executive of City Capital Corp. in Chicago.

"I've seen more money stolen in the name of God than any other way," Joseph Borg, Alabama securities commissioner and a past president of the North American Securities Administrators Association, told the Wall Street Journal. "Seven out of 10 of our cases involve affinity fraud, and in the South, probably 40 to 50 percent have a religious angle." 

Like The Root on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.   

Comments
The Root encourages respectful debate and dialogue in our commenting community. To improve the commenting experience for all our readers we will be experimenting with some new formats over the next few weeks. During this transition period the comments section will be unavailable to users.

We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your continued support of The Root.

While we are experimenting, please feel free to leave feedback below about your past experiences commenting at The Root.