Affinity fraud is a scam in which personal contacts are used by the perpetrator to defraud a specific group of people. While religious fraud is common, church congregations are not the only breeding grounds for affinity fraud. Investment attorneys urge the public to be aware that any tight-knit community can be a target. Groups targeted can include professional circles, ethnic communities, rotary clubs or even social media groups. One case of fraud targeted a Persian language radio show’s listeners.
Ephren Taylor, who credited himself as the youngest black chief executive of a publicly-traded company in American history, appeared on CNN and NPR, and was a Democratic National Convention speaker, was endorsed at one of his “Wealth Tour Live” seminars by Eddie Long, pastor of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church with the words, “[God] wants you to be a mover and a shaker… to finance you well to do His will.” Taylor then offered “low risk investment with high performances” to the Pastor’s flock. Taylor now stands (whereabouts unknown) accused of fraud. The full extent of investor losses as a result of Taylor’s fraud is yet to be determined because of the complicated web of companies, both legitimate and shell.
While many individuals that are targeted for stock broker fraud are elderly and/or uninformed, these are not the only victims of affinity fraud. One man who was taken in by Ephren Taylor had an MBA and was an electrical engineer. A Utah man in another affinity fraud case, who was taken for $50,000, had worked on white-collar fraud cases as a federal agent before his retirement.
Currently, 1,000 cases of investment fraud are being probed by the FBI. This is more than double the number of investment fraud cases that were outstanding in 2008. Sadly, the difficult economic times that will have investors believing almost anything that promises financial security also brings more and more fraudsters out of the woodwork. If you believe you have been the victim of affinity fraud, contact an investment attorney at The Law Office of Christopher J. Gray at (866) 966-9598 for a no-cost, confidential consultation.