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by Deborah Caldwell
Over a dozen New Birth Missionary Baptist Church members have filed suit in Dekalb County Georgia, alleging that Long encouraged them to invest in businessman Ephren Taylor’s company, even after Long’s assistant had been tipped off that Taylor was running a ponzi scheme.
The letter Long’s assistant reportedly received warned that Taylor was running a $3 million dollar deficit and that there would be no return on investment if parishioners invested with Taylor.
Long introduced Taylor to his church members as a “friend” and now churchgoers say they lost over $1 million dollars in the alleged scam. Long has since released a video asking Taylor to return the money he took from New Birth members.
“If Bishop Eddie Long hadn’t endorsed this they wouldn’t have invested,” Jason Doss, attorney for the former members, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
New Birth officials remain hopeful that the alleged con-artist will return the millions he took from members.
“We remain hopeful that Ephren Taylor and companies related to him restore the funds that were taken from congregants at New Birth and churches around the county,” New Birth said in a statement. “We continue to cooperate as the case proceeds.”
The Securities and Exchange Commission charged Taylor with running a Ponzi scheme in 2012.
“He preyed upon investors’ faith and their desire to help others, convincing them that they could earn healthy returns while also helping their communities,” said David Woodcock, director of the SEC’s Fort Worth Regional Office in Texas.