Consumer Alert: Man scams church members out of millions

Always do extensive research on anyone you are considering trusting with your money. That includes people you might meet in 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?," says one victim.

The victim is angry and embarrased 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," the victim says. "I cannot trust anybody."

Terrence Mayfield was invite 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," says 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," says Forrester.

It was all a scam, 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," says Forrester.

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

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

The financial and emotional toll has been devestating.

"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," says the victim.

Mayfield was arrested, convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison. He also received three years probation and was ordered to pay restitution. The victim in this case said he believes Mayfield will scam again because this was his second run-in with the law.

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