Scam victims targeted at church

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects
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He's angry and embarrassed after losing $60,000 in a scam run my a man he met at his own church.

"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?" said the victim, who doesn't want to give his name. "I've lost my trust in human beings.  I cannot trust anybody."

A man by the name of 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.

"He told them by participating he would be able to consolidate their debt and also get them involved in an income generating real estate investment program," said U.S. Postal Inspector Daniel Forrester.

Mayfield would show potential investors pictures of properties that were supposedly in foreclosure.

"He would say, 'This would be the house you're going to invest in.' 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," said Forrester.

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 explained.

More than a dozen victims lost $1.2 million in this church.

"When they did not have money to invest in one of his schemes, he often convinced them to re-finance their homes," said Forrester. "So in many cases people refinanced their homes just to get the money and to this day they remain homeless."

The financial and emotional toll has been devastating.

The anonymous victim added, "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."

Mayfield was sentenced to eight years in prison followed by three years probation.  He was also ordered to pay restitution.  The victim in this case says he doesn't expect to see a cent and fears Mayfield will scam again.

This was Mayfield's second run-in with the law.  Back in 2005, Mayfield was sentenced to two years probation for a scheme involving eight people who lost $200,000.

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