Faith-based fraudster Ephren Taylor receives 19 years in jail

Finally! Some positive news to report. A fraudster is sent to jail for 19 years.

We’ve been covering the antics of Ephren Taylor since 2013 when his Ponzi scheme duped investors and he was caught living under a false ID, hiding from authorities. His scheme, where money from one investor is paid to keep the others happy, works for a while but it ultimately doomed to fail. Taylor used congregations as his audience, taking advantage of the trust many people have in their church. Some people lost their life savings.

Church swindler Ephren Taylor headed to federal prison for 19 years.

The man who devised a scheme to trick more than 400 people out of $16 million was sentenced to 19 years, seven months in federal prison, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Tuesday.

Ephren Taylor II, while CEO of City Capital Corporation, directed a nationwide Ponzi scheme that targeted church-goers, Acting U.S. Attorney John Horn’s office said. Taylor, 32, of Overland Park, Kansas, must also pay $15,590,752.81 in restitution, Horn’s office said in an emailed statement.

“Taylor’s ‘Building Wealth’ tour accomplished exactly the opposite, victimizing hundreds of investors and leaving many of them financially ruined,” Horn said. “At churches across the country he touted himself as a socially conscious investor, but his investment opportunities were nothing but a Ponzi scheme designed to build his own personal wealth. This sentencing brings a measure of justice to those who remain devastated by his actions.”

But they don’t get their money back, I imagine.

Taylor targeted some well-known mega-churches like Bishop Eddie Long’s New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga., and Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Texas. People would hand over their life savings presumably trusting a brother in faith. This type of framing is called “affinity fraud” where there is an implied level of trust because the seller belongs to the same demographic group as you. Taylor targeted Christian African-Americans.

bible and currency

  6 comments for “Faith-based fraudster Ephren Taylor receives 19 years in jail

  1. Dr Rob_W
    March 18, 2015 at 7:39 PM

    A lot of these churches preach to their congregations to beware of Satan and to be vigilant against his evil ways , when most the time the evil is the nice Christian man in the nice suit to whom you are handing all your money to.

  2. MisterNeutron
    March 18, 2015 at 8:23 PM

    Anyone who professes deep faith in things for which there is no evidence has, in effect, announced to the world that he is supremely gullible, and will swallow almost any story, no matter how silly. Little wonder that people like this end up being victimized. If I were a con man, I’d certainly target church-goers – the more devout, the better.

  3. Peter Robinson
    March 19, 2015 at 3:49 AM

    Almost word for word what I was going to say before you beat me to it. A classic example of how belief in one sort of nonsense, however apparently harmless, leaves people open to being taken in by another more costly or damaging variety of nonsense.

  4. One Eyed Jack
    March 19, 2015 at 2:32 PM

    It is tempting to take your stance, however it’s simply not true. Many highly intelligent people are also deeply religious. People are quite capable of compartmentalizing their beliefs. Someone who is deeply religious is not necessarily gullible in other aspects of their life.

  5. Harry
    March 19, 2015 at 11:56 PM

    Ever since the tragic events of September the Eleventh, it seems as if the majority of people (at least from the Southern states which would also include the mentality of Kansas) have discarded their critical thinking skills and embraced things that don’t exist. I’d take the average intellect from the 1980s over the average intellect of today. The internet and smartphones have not made people smarter. It has had the reverse effect.

    People used to rightly laugh at the scandals surrounding scammers like the PTL Club or Swaggart haggling to only pay $10 for ladies of the evening while condemning homosexuality and other wedge issues not to offend his cash cow flock.

    At last, one must ask if people are desperate for spiritual hope and solace or are the donors reacting to the giant sucking sound that took so many jobs to Mejico, China and poorer places still?

  6. Artor
    March 22, 2015 at 1:04 AM

    It has gotten to where I immediately distrust someone if they go out of their way to identify as Xians. It’s none of my business, so why bring it up unless to try for some unearned trust? I know many Xians who are nice people, but they keep their Xianity to themselves, and don’t push it in public.

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