BULL STREET - The art of the Con

Greater Ministries International Church

These folks had just as good idea as the folks that were fleecing the Baptists. This Tampa Florida based “Church” armed their salesmen with verses from the Bible such as the one from Luke 6:38: ‘Give, and it shall be given unto you’ - along with the promise that if they indeed believed in the almighty, they would double any funds that they sent to the Greater Ministries International Church.  For the most part, the Baptists in Arizona were only fleeced out of the cash that they had available. These folks made those criminals made the ones in Arizona look like “Little Bo Peep” because not only did they attempt to take everything that the believers had but they also tried to get them to mortgage their homes to do it.

If the potential donor didn’t have enough money laying around in cash or a home to borrow on, they would let them put their offering on a major credit card. Moreover once they had drained the card, they showed the faithful how to cash in their insurance policy and donate those proceeds as well. Deborah Bortner, president of the North American Securities Administrators Association, said in a statement, ‘Always do your homework. Be as skeptical and careful when you invest with someone who shares your faith as you would with anyone else.’”[48]

The Greater Ministries International Church fraud did almost as much damage to elderly Florida residents as the Baptist oriented fraud did to those sucked into in Arizona. Florida residents lost over $500 million and probably will never see another nickel. In the meantime they may get some satisfaction from the fact that Gerald Payne, the brains behind the operation is going to be serving 27-years in slammer for his efforts.

“Dennis Marlock, a retired fraud investigator for the Milwaukee police department, says some hustlers scour newspaper death notices to find out where widows or widowers live. Several days later, the swindler, dressed as a delivery person, arrives at the survivor's home with a package containing a Bible or other religious symbol, waiting to be paid. The survivor assumes the deceased ordered the item before his or her death and pays an outrageous fee for it.”[49]



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