Busted: North Carolina Church Coerced Congregants Into Unemployment Fraud

Follow the money: A North Carolina Church coerced congregants into filing fraudulent unemployment claims so members could keep tithing.

According to multiple reports, Jane Whaley, 77, founder and pastor at Word of Faith Fellowship church, told church members they should file fraudulent unemployment claims so that they could keep giving the church money.

The Associated Press reports members of the Word of Faith Fellowship were instructed by church leaders to file fraudulent unemployment claims on behalf of themselves and their employees so that they could continue tithing at rates mandated by the church.

More from the AP:

When Randy Fields’ construction company faced potential ruin because of the cratering economy, he pleaded with his pastor at Word of Faith Fellowship church to reduce the amount of money he was required to tithe every week.

To his shock, Fields said church founder Jane Whaley proposed a divine plan that would allow him to continue tithing at least 10 percent of his income to the secretive evangelical church while helping his company survive: He would file fraudulent unemployment claims on behalf of his employees. She called it, he said, “God’s plan.”

According to reports:

Dozens of employees filed false claims and were interviewed by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and Homeland Security.

The former members estimated the fraudulent claims would have drawn payments totaling in the hundreds of thousands over the course of six years.

Word of Faith Fellowship was founded by Sam and Jane Whaley in 1979. AP reports on the couple, the church, and the unlimited power Jane Whaley has over the church congregation:

Word of Faith Fellowship was founded in 1979 by Whaley, a petite former math teacher, and her husband, Sam, a former used car salesman.

They are listed as co-pastors but all of those interviewed said it is Jane Whaley — a fiery, 77-year-old Christian Charismatic preacher — who maintains dictatorial control of the flock and also administers some of the beatings herself.

She has scores of strict rules to control congregants’ lives, including whether they can marry or have children. At the top of the list: No one can complain about her or question her authority. Failure to comply often triggers a humiliating rebuke from the pulpit or, worse, physical punishment, according to most of those interviewed.

Under Jane Whaley’s leadership, Word of Faith grew from a handful of followers to a 750-member sect, concentrated in a 35-acre complex protected by tight security and a thick line of trees.

The group also has nearly 2,000 members in churches in Brazil and Ghana, and affiliations in other countries.

The church is also currently under investigation for importing human slaves from Brazil.

According to this report, gullible young Brazilians, some as young as 12-years-old, are being tricked and trafficked out of Brazil, to be used as slave labor by the nefarious North Carolina church.

Reports indicate that the North Carolina church has been using its two branches in Brazil to traffic young people to the United States to be put to work as slave labor.

Church representatives are accused of luring gullible Brazilians into coming to the U.S. on tourist and student visas in order to visit the Word of Faith Fellowship compound. However, once the young Brazilians arrive, their passports, travel documents, and any money they have is seized, and they are forced into slave labor, serving the church and high ranking members of the church congregation.

Bottom line: For Jane Whaley and the Word of Faith Fellowship, it’s all about the money, even if it means convincing the gullible and desperate to commit fraud.

Jane Whaley, Founder, Word of Faith Fellowship, Coerced Congregants Into Unemployment Fraud
Jane Whaley, Founder, Word of Faith Fellowship, Coerced Congregants Into Unemployment Fraud
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