Fleecing The Flock
Posted by Joe Bloe , 12 January 2011 · 835 views
Fleecing the Flock
How to make money from religion
Hint and Tips for Budding Young Evangelists
Once you’ve got the flock organized, you have to convince them to give you their money. There’s no point in being cute about it - just tell them if they don’t hand over the cash, they will go straight to hell.
Benny Hinn: "Only those who have been giving to God's work will be spared."
When you’ve got their cash you can ease up on the threats and praise them for their generosity.
Benny Hinn: "The greatest thing you can do for your finances is to give to the work of God."
The tight-fisted in your congregation will need a little encouragement so tell them that their money will be returned ten-fold if they donate to the church.
Benny Hinn: "Amen. So expect a financial harvest but you have to sow a seed to see it happen... you may want to call your seed in today."
The plan will work because there is sure to be one or two members of the flock who unexpectedly find some cash and they will publicly declare that what you say is true:
Carlotta Moore: "Oh yes, you will get money back. You will get money back. Out of the clear blue sky, checks will come from somewhere. You go to put on a dress or something, or take out a pocketbook up there in the closet. There is $50 or $60 laying up in there. You'll be like, 'Woah, woah, woah. Thank you, Lord.'
You are in the business to make money, but you don’t want the flock to know exactly how much, so you take advantage of the “parsonage exemption”: A law dating back to 1954 (in the USA) which allows churches to give their pastors and ministers a tax-free allowance to help ease housing related expenses such as utility bills, repairs and yard work costs.
Over at Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral, the Chief Financial Officer (Fred Southard) claimed a salary of only $12,000 per year. That was the figure that appeared in the church wages book, but good old Fred was also collecting another $132,000 per year as a “housing allowance” (which didn’t show up in the wages book).
Down at the Saddleback Valley Community Church, pastor Rick Warren was paid a salary of only $20,000 per year, but he secretly collected another $80,000 per year from his housing allowance.
[That link seems to be broken, but the same story is told here: http://childrensmini...ender-to-caesar ]
You will probably start your preaching career in a hired hall, but you should always push the idea that the congregation needs a church of its own. Wait until the parishioners have convinced themselves that it is all their own idea and then you can go into action – get a family member to buy a piece of real estate and have them sell it the church at a highly inflated price:
The Trinity Foundation has asked the IRS to investigate after FOX 8 found Pastor Michael Mille may have profited off the church
In that earlier report, FOX 8 found that Mille and his wife purchased a property in August of 2007 for $850,000. About three months later, records show Mille and his wife sold the property to their church, White Dove Fellowship. The church paid $1.2 million. The Mille's could have made a profit of almost $400,000.
And you don’t have to stop at one property, you can run the same routine as often as the flock will stand for it:
Of the 24 properties in Mississippi, we found 11 where Mille personally purchased the property and then later sold it to HIS Ministry or another foundation he runs. And in some of those cases, Mille owned the property for a short period of time before selling it to his non-profit.
Remember too, that you can work the same scam in both directions: You could sell a property to the church for $1.9 million, buy it back again for a dollar – and then resell it on the open market. The profit potential is practically unlimited.
Anyone sifting through the public records of tangled real-estate transactions conducted by the Baptist Foundation of Arizona will soon begin asking questions:
What would possess a religious foundation to pass up the opportunity to acquire a $1.9 million office building for $1?
Why would that foundation turn around and option the same $1 building to a former board member?
Why would it then allow that same former director to use the building to collateralize millions of dollars in loans he already had received from the foundation?
There are no common-sense answers.
But that's business as usual at the Baptist Foundation of Arizona (BFA), a $368 million religious organization that claims devotion to charitable causes while handing out nearly $140 million in loans to insiders. BFA officials hide their deals behind a thicket of more than 60 subsidiary companies, some non-profit, some for-profit.
As a preacher you are in constant touch with God Almighty, and the flock is always keen to hear about these heavenly messages, so you write the details in a book. A print run of 10,000 would probably be enough – and then you sell the whole lot at retail prices to the church (which uses money already donated by the parishioners to make the purchase). In other words, the donations go straight from the parishioners into your pocket – and it’s all strictly legal. The church might be able sell only five or six hundred copies at the regular price, but that’s OK because you’ve already been paid the full amount.
This book publishing scam not only gives you heaps of cash, but it can be used to silence your critics when they complain about your lavish lifestyle: You can show them your tiny salary in the wages book and explain that any extra cash comes from book-sales
“As for his lifestyle, pastor Hinn has explained that some of the perks he has enjoyed like custom-made suits and expensive cars have been paid for by his personal income, including the royalties from his many books.
While that may be true and legal, it's only part of the story. According to the Trinity Foundation, the biggest customer for pastor Benny's books is pastor Benny's own ministry. Trinity says the Hinn ministry buys thousands of the books for which Hinn apparently collects the royalties.
The ministry then offers them for sale at crusades and on its Web site, and gives them away to donors.”
Gloria Copeland is another prolific author:
“Gloria has produced more than 70 teaching series covering a wide variety of issues. She is also the author of many best-selling books including God's Master Plan for Your Life, Hidden Treasures, Hearing From Heaven and Blessed Beyond Measure.”
If the cash flow slows down, you can always get things moving again with the claim that you are going to build an orphanage. The flock won’t hesitate to donate money to such a worthy cause and you’ll soon be rolling in it. But don’t do anything in the local area, where people can see what is (or isn’t) happening. Build it off-shore, away from the prying eyes of the flock.
“Since February of 2001, the Hinn Web site has been soliciting donations for a new orphanage to be built in this little town outside Mexico City saying it would be finished "soon."
But when we checked in Mexico, more than a year-and-a-half later, we could find no sign of any construction. But the Hinn web site kept promising that construction would be finished in, "a few short months."
That was news to the local official in charge of construction in the town, who told us the Hinn ministry hadn't even been issued a building permit yet.”
Of course, if the stakes are high enough, it might be worth trying something in the local area – a healing center perhaps. You’ll get caught out eventually, but it might take years – and even when things go wrong, you need never take the blame. You blame god instead! Just tell the flock that god has lost interest in the healing center and he wants you to buy a new yacht instead (for delivering bibles to the islands). Who is going to argue with the word of god? No-one in your flock, that's for sure.
And then there was pastor Benny's most ambitious project - his $25 million healing center to be built in Texas.
Benny Hinn: "And the Lord said to me to build a healing center that people can come to 24-hours a day, any day of the week to be prayed for and get healed."
That was Benny Hinn raising funds for the project in 1999, but this was Benny Hinn on a Christian telethon a year later: "Many of our wonderful friends have called and said, 'What's with the healing center?' and basically what the Lord has said to me is to wait for his voice."
Hinn announced that God had told him to postpone construction, so he said he was going to spend that money on other things.
Benny Hinn: "I am putting all the money we have in the ministry to get out there and preach."
Benny Hinn: "The day will come, I am in no hurry, neither is God. The day will come I will fulfill that vision."
If you are not as courageous as Hinn, you might prefer to start a charity that actually works. Install a member of your family as the CEO, and at the end of each year you can bundle up all the surplus cash and give it to the shill as a bonus for a job well done.
In Cornelius, a nonprofit set up to help people in debt paid its chief executive more than $5 million - nearly everything it had.
In Anson County, a charity that worked to keep troubled children in school paid its leader about $300,000 a year, roughly twice as much as the county superintendent of schools.
In Spartanburg, a nonprofit religious broadcaster paid its president and her husband nearly $800,000 - a third of the organization's budget.
On paper, federal law prohibits charities from awarding excessive compensation to their leaders.
But in practice, loopholes and understaffed regulators allow nonprofits to pay almost any salary, an Observer investigation found.
But if you do start a charity, for God’s sake don’t use your own money to get it up and running. You are a minister of religion, a trusted member of society, and you can apply for a Government grant to cover start-up costs (and ongoing costs as well). Medicaid, for example, has millions of dollars available for any “reputable” person prepared to work with rebellious youth. All you have to do is hire a hall and encourage a few streeties to drop in and listen to bible stories every now and then. It costs practically nothing and the remainder of the grant goes straight into your pocket.
Rainbow Enhanced Academic Developers ( READ), a Wadesboro group which has counseled about 175 youths with behavior problems, in 2007 paid CEO Lawrence Elliott about $312,000. Since 2005, the group has received more than $10 million in Medicaid money.
Always be prepared for natural disasters. There’s quite a few of them each year and you should aim to get involved in at least one or two of the bigger ones each year. They’re handy because the flock don't get time to think: You call a special service in the church hall, put a worried look on your face as you describe the heart-wrenching scenes unfolding in the disaster area, and then beg the flock to give until it hurts – they always do.
Even better, because everything is happening so quickly, there is not enough time for people to get organized enough to keep track of where the money goes. In fact, you might as well keep it all for yourself? Nobody will know. And if the flock should later ask to see the results of their generosity, you can always blame the corrupt government in the disaster area. You can say the government officials got the money but didn’t distribute it to those in need.
On May 18th 2008, the Zhengzhou Municipal China Christian Council / Three Self Patriotic Movement (CCC/TSPM) designated the day as the Disaster Relief Day and collected donations from six churches to aid the disaster areas. Zhutun Church raised more than 57,670 yuan ($8,440 US) for disaster relief. However, Zhutun Church was not included along with other donors who were publicly announced by the city council on November 3rd 2008.
On November 3, 2008, Zhutun Church discovered that their relief donations were never sent to the disaster areas in Sichuan, but were still being held by the Zhengzhou CCC/TSPM. Zhutun Church reported this to relevant authorities, yet church members say that many months passed without a response.
By the time you’ve got your ministry to this level, you will be able to afford a pretty good team of lawyers and you can start experimenting with ideas that take advantage of loopholes in the law. Money laundering perhaps:
The young receive free educations and the old get free geriatric care. Family businesses connect relatives in a web of interdependence to the furthest reaches of kinship. Wedding receptions with 1,000 guests are common. A Friday night Sabbath dinner with 40 people is the norm.
And that enveloping tradition among the Syrian Jewish communities of Brooklyn and New Jersey seemed to redouble the shock and outrage among their members Thursday after the arrests of five Sephardic rabbis in a New Jersey corruption investigation.
In a criminal complaint, the FBI said the rabbis used their congregations’ charitable organizations to launder about $3 million — passing what they were told was a donor’s ill-gotten gains through their charities’ bank accounts, and then returning the money to the donor in exchange for a cut of 5 to 10 percent
SAO PAULO — The founder of one of Brazil's biggest evangelical churches siphoned off billions of dollars in donations from his mostly poor followers to buy jewelry, TV stations and other businesses for himself, authorities charged Tuesday.
A Brazilian judge accepted charges from prosecutors alleging that Bishop Edir Macedo and nine other people linked to the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God committed fraud against the church itself and against its numerous followers.
Sao Paulo state's prosecutors office alleged in a statement that Macedo and the others took more than $2 billion in donations from 2003 to 2008 alone, but charged that the alleged scheme went back 10 years.
Prosecutors said the church tells its members it needs donations — cash, checks, cars and other goods — to finance new temples and to pay for religious programs on radio and TV.
The church allegedly used fake companies to launder the money, moving the assets abroad and then returning them in the form of loans used by Macedo and his accomplices to buy businesses, prosecutors said.
Italian authorities seized euro23 million ($30 million) from a Vatican bank account Tuesday and said they have begun investigating top officials of the Vatican bank in connection with a money-laundering probe.
A former Oral Roberts University accountant revised his lawsuit on Thursday to allege that more than $1 billion annually was funneled through the university, possibly to individual regents.
"It appears that many of the former board members were actual participants in the funneling of money through the university for their own eventual personal use, and thus, the foxes were watching the hen house," says former accountant Trent Huddleston's lawsuit.
ORU spokesman Jeremy Burton said, "The allegations of inappropriately funneling money through accounts as alleged by the plaintiff have no basis in fact."
Ponzi schemes are definitely illegal, but they can last for years and you can make millions before the whole thing crumbles into dust. Just make sure that the operation cannot be traced back to you or your church. Get a patsy to start up a dummy company to collect the cash and make sure you invest a few dollars of your own money in the scheme. Later, when the scam is revealed, you can portray yourself as one of the victims, rather than the operator.
Ron Mainse of 100 Huntley Street makes statement on alleged ponzi scheme:
A couple of years ago, I was presented with an investment opportunity by someone I considered to be a close friend. He described how he was managing an investment fund that was experiencing very high returns for his investors, and he wanted to extend the opportunity to me, as well as to any of my family and friends. He said that his goal in operating this investment was especially to bless those who are followers of Jesus, who would in turn provide funds for Gods Kingdom Purposes. We decided to invest, and we also relayed the opportunity to some family and friends. In addition, this man said that he would like to further bless us by giving us a small percentage of the profit that he was making through his role as a trader, specifically for any funds invested by our group of family, friends or others, I naively accepted his offer, not realizing one must be properly licensed to receive any sort of investment commission. On May 15th of this year, we were shocked to see an official report that stated the conclusion of an investigation, which alleged that this man, in whom we had placed our trust, was actually running an illegal investment scheme. It became painfully obvious that we used poor judgment in simply trusting this man’s word and encouraging others to invest, without seeking the advice of those who are knowledgeable about the investment world. It’s very difficult to convey to you how greatly grieved I am about my role in this whole situation, as a number of people for who I care deeply were seriously hurt, in my involvement likely gave them a level of confidence that this was, as I thought, a legitimate investment opportunity.
As a result, back in May, our Crossroads Board of Directors decided that I should step down from public ministry until the various issues are sufficiently understood and dealt with. Our Board Members seek Gods wisdom and heart on every matter and only want what’s best to fulfill Gods purposes at Crossroads. I have asked Gods forgiveness and I pray that those who have been hurt because of my participation will find it in their hearts to forgive me as well. I am also taking steps to make full restitution of all of the funds I received, so that there’s absolutely no personal benefit to me resulting from any of this. Further, Ann and I and 2 of our children have lost everything that we had personally invested.
CHICAGO — A taxi driver turned prominent businessman in Chicago's South Asian community is among three people indicted for defrauding hundreds of Muslim investors out of $30 million, in part by promising that investments complied with Islamic law, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.
Salman Ibrahim, 37, who vanished in 2008 after allegedly persuading hundreds of Pakistani and Indian immigrants to contribute their savings and mortgage their homes to finance real estate deals, is believed to be abroad, possibly in his native Pakistan, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago said.
The FBI is trying to locate him.
One alleged victim, Fazal Mahmood, said he lost more than $200,000, some of which he intended to use to put his two daughters through college.
"I will never trust anyone with my money again," the 54-year-old told The Associated Press. "I'm a Muslim and he's a Muslim. I was always taught ... a Muslim will never cheat another Muslim."
Always remember that you are not the only member of the church who can see the huge amounts of cash laying around. Your underlings may be Christians, but not many of them will be put off by a commandment reading “thou shalt not steal”. Whenever you give your co-workers access to the counting room, there is always a chance that they will give in to temptation and rob you blind:
A church treasurer who stole £70,000 to fund his stamp collection has been told to sell the hoard on eBay to repay his victims.
Judge Peter Jacobs agreed the deal at a hearing at Norwich crown court to confiscate the fraudster's assets, found to be the proceeds of crime.
However he warned that Klein, one of the UK's top five dealers of his kind, would be jailed if he tried to hide the proceeds or if he failed to raise enough cash.
A Chicago-area Roman Catholic priest was charged Friday with stealing from his former North Side parish.
Rev. Steven Patte, 64, pleaded not guilty in Cook County Circuit Judge William Lacy's courtroom to charges of theft, money laundering and other financial crimes.
The eight-count indictment charged Patte stole a little more than $12,000 from St. Ita's Parish in Edgewater between May 2004 and July 2005.
The former finance director of a historic downtown church has been charged with stealing more than $500,000 from the institution over six years, court records show.
Jason Todd Reynolds, 38, of Bowie was arrested last week on a wire fraud charge. He is accused of using the money to finance the purchases of luxury cars, trips and jewelry, U.S. Secret Service agent Melissa T. Blake said in court papers.
Reynolds worked for National City Christian Church from 2002 until the scheme was uncovered in 2008, the agent wrote. The finance director used the church's American Express card to make about $300,000 in personal purchases, including down payments for a Land Rover and Lexus SUV, according to the court papers.
He also purchased an $8,718 two-carat diamond ring and a $7,600 leather sectional sofa with the card, Blake alleged.
Blake also accused Reynolds of writing himself more than $200,000 in church checks over the years.
If you do lose control of your staff and they are getting their grubby little hands on the cash before you have a chance to grab it for yourself – well it might be time to declare bankruptcy. It’s a big step, but it can be quite profitable. All you have to do is walk into the counting room (so to speak), pick up all the loose cash you can find, and dole it out to yourself and your family as bonus payments for services rendered.
Financial documents filed Wednesday in the Crystal Cathedral bankruptcy case show generous compensation paid to insiders and family members of founding minister Robert H. Schuller in the year before the Garden Grove-based mega-church filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
During the same period, revenue plummeted, and church employees and vendors — from choral members to the livestock company that provided animals for its elaborate productions — were laid off or went without pay.
The church paid out more than $1.8 million to 23 insiders and members of Schuller's family in the 12 months leading up to the Oct. 18 bankruptcy filing, according to the financial statements. That sum included $832,490 in tax-exempt housing allowances given to eight people and payments to all five of Schuller's children and their spouses.
Bankruptcy though, can be a complicated process and people will ask difficult questions so it might be easier to refill your wallet with the proceeds of insurance fraud:
WINDER - Two of the three men charged with torching New Life Deliverance Church in 2005 pleaded guilty Monday in Barrow County Superior Court.
Maurice Arnold, 25, the son of the church's former pastor, and 48-year-old Bruce Edward Smith of Monroe pleaded guilty to first-degree arson charges.
Prosecutors believe the Rev. Quincy Arnold, 50, of Lawrenceville, asked his son to burn down the Barrow County church in December 2005, and say Maurice Arnold hired Smith to help. All three were arrested last year.
Quincy Arnold denies having anything to do with the arson. He is expected to stand trial in October on charges of first-degree arson, insurance fraud, vandalizing a place of worship and conspiracy to commit a crime, District Attorney Brad Smith said Monday.
The good thing about insurance fraud is that you can play the part of the hapless victim, rebuild your church, and get right back to fleecing the flock. On top of that, you also get the chance to make even more cash on the side. Just get the contractors to submit inflated charges for the repair work. The insurance company pays the inflated price and you can split the excess with the contractor – everybody’s happy.
Church music director Carva White faced the music after launching an unholy plan to burn down his house of worship for an insurance payout.
White played hymns for the Sunflower Missionary Baptist Church in Leavenworth, Kan. He recruited the head pastor to help him torch the building, con insurers into paying for repairs, then try to obtain bribes from contractors who would submit inflated bills for rebuilding the burned-out church.
And for those who are a little more adventurous, why not pick up some poor soul, insure his life for a few million dollars and then kill him !
BALTIMORE - Baltimore pastor Kevin Pushia plead guilty this week to conspiring to murder and scam a blind man in a insurance fraud scheme that led to the victim's death.
Pushia, a 34-year-old former pastor of a small church in East Baltimore, told police that he hired a man to kill 38-year-old Lemuel Wallace after taking out seven life insurance policies in Wallace's name and adding himself as the beneficiary.
Pushia also detailed his crimes to police saying that in February of 2009 he paid a hitman $50,000 for the murder..
So there you have it – all the information you need to fleece your flock - from some of the best in the business