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CWA Warns Christians: 'Don't be Easy to Dupe'

Church members fall prey to billion dollar scam by investment firm

 

Contact: Stacey Holliday, Concerned Women for America, 202-488-7000 ext. 126

 

WASHINGTON, Aug. 16 /Christian Newswire/ -- Concerned Women for America (CWA) draws attention to an article by the Associated Press reporting on a new scam –– a religious rip-off –– that has bilked billions from Christian believers.  The investment firm JTL –– the letters stand for “Just Trust the Lord” –– is a typical scam targeting church members.  Randall Harding of JTL became an active church member earning the trust of people at Crossroads Christian Church in Corona, CA before implementing his Ponzi scheme that included wire fraud and money laundering.  According to the Associated Press, Harding stole upwards of $50 million from Christians –– which is a relatively modest portion of the $2 billion that such schemes have taken in since 1984.

 

Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse, Senior Fellow of CWA’s Beverly LaHaye Institute, remarked, “Every few years a new get-rich-quick scheme comes to light and we discover that Christians have, once again, fallen for a scam artist’s pitch. The trust that Christians have for each other makes communities of believers particularly vulnerable to those who seem to be part of their fellowship. Those who appear to be investing in the Lord’s work are greatly admired and others want to help them achieve their laudable goals. The really good criminals know how to prey on that trust by linking their scheme to a church or parachurch organization.”

 

Crouse added, “These scam artists are master manipulators; they know how to generate ‘group think.’  Skeptical people are ‘shamed’ into staying silent because fellow Christians are investing in ‘kingdom causes’ and are using their money for ‘holy’ purposes.”

 

Crouse concluded, “Once again, Christians are reminded that we cannot afford to engage in ‘soft sentimentality’ rather than the ‘hard thinking’ that Christianity requires.  Nor should we allow a ‘herd mentality’ to overcome our good judgment.  We must be discerning and wise; sometimes that means being skeptical and requiring proof instead of following the crowd.  Sometimes, all it takes for evil to succeed is to keep good folks from asking pointed questions. Often, these con artists will get a couple of leading individuals at their side (often with thinly veiled bribes consisting of discounts and extra incentives) and then hold a group meeting where it appears that everyone is buying into the venture.”

 

Concerned Women for America is the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization.