Looks like someone didn’t learn from the mistakes of the thief before him. Ephren Taylor was once known as the “youngest African American CEO of a public company,” but these days he holds a much more infamous title, ‘Black Bernie Madoff’. According to The Huffington Post, hundreds of alleged victims come forward to join a class action suit filed in October in Raleigh, North Carolina Federal District Court alleging that Taylor operated a series of Ponzi schemes, preying on churchgoers and costing many their entire life savings.
According to The Huffington Post:
“Many of Taylor’s accusers say that they entrusted him with their money following his visits to their churches promising guaranteed financial returns in ventures, namely real estate, that would also benefit less fortunate people, local communities and the individuals’ churches.”
The scandal broke when New Birth Missionary Baptist Bishop Eddie Long made an appeal to Taylor on YouTube asking the young entrepreneur to return money invested by some of the church’s 25,000 members who had invested money through City Capital Corp., the company for which Taylor previously served as CEO. It’s alleged that in 2009 Taylor visited the church to hold a financial seminar where he promised church members that he would invest their money in “can’t-miss real estate rather than take a risk on Wall Street.” Now members of the church are suing Taylor, Bishop Long and the church claiming that Long abused his position and “coerced” his parishioners into investing at least $1 million dollars.
As if that isn’t bad enough, Taylor is also accused of wire fraud, interstate transportation of stolen property, money laundering, racketeering, violations of the RICO Act amongst other charges and violations. Cathy J. Lerman, founder of Cathy Jackson Lerman, PA, which filed the class action suit said “During the past month I have been contacted by hundreds of victims who entrusted Ephren Taylor and the co-defendants with their hard-earned money but ultimately were left badly bruised, clinging to broken promises and depleted bank accounts.”
No word on when Taylor is set to appear in court to face his charges.