Scam targets church members

Updated:
Scam targets church members story image
NATIONWIDE (WGME) - Investigators say a con-artist was able to steal more than a million dollars from church congregations who trusted him.

"When you can't be protected by your own church, when people are coming in there and preying on you… where else do you turn?" an anonymous fraud victim said.
 
He says he's angry and embarrassed after losing $60,000 in a scam run by a man he met at his own church.
 
"I've lost my trust in human beings; I cannot trust anybody," he said.
 
Terence Mayfield was invited to speak at the victim's church as a guest speaker. Posing as a certified financial planner, Mayfield claimed he could help the congregation make money for themselves and the church. Mayfield would show potential investors pictures of properties that were supposedly in foreclosure.
 
"He may not have had any intention or connection with the house, so the people felt these would be houses that would generate rental income," U.S. Postal Inspector Daniel Forrester said.

But it was all a scam and just one more layer to an elaborate ponzi scheme Mayfield had been running for years.
 
"In actuality, he never purchased any of these properties. He told the people to send the investment funds directly to him, those investments wound up in his bank account," Forrester said.
 
More than a dozen victims lost around $1.2 million dollars in the church.
 
"The things I want to provide for my children, I couldn't provide for them any longer. School, ballgames, things that would create memories for us for the rest of our lives I've had to cut short because I have to have enough money to make ends meet," one victim said.

Mayfield was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to 8 years in prison.

We reached out to the Better Business Bureau, which told us investment scams are on the rise during the past decade because many baby boomers are managing their own retirement.

Investor educators have three key strategies before you invest in any opportunity.

1. Tell anyone who pressures you "no." Practice ending the conversation.
2. Turn the tables and ask questions. A legitimate investment professional must be properly licensed.
3. Talk to someone first; you shouldn't be asked to keep secrets.

Consumer advocates also say don't race the clock. Take some time to make an informed decision.Scam targets church members
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