Seattle man Benjamin Rogovy, inset above, made millions running a ‘pay to pray’ website, but came unstuck when US officials began investigating his activities.
According to this report, the Washington State Attorney General said the Christian Prayer Center website was one of three deceptive online schemes devised by Rogovy. The state has just shut down all three sites and Rogovy will have to pay $7.8 million in penalties and restitution.
Said state Attorney General Bob Ferguson:
He used deceptive tactics to lure people in to pay their hard earned money for this, and that’s not right. I believe in the power of prayer. I do. I believe in that. But to capitalise on that. Right? That yearning for support. That spiritual support. To take advantage of that in a deceptive way – how low can you go?
Just last month, KOPO News revealed how some people signing up to request prayers didn’t realise they were agreeing to repeat credit card charges with no refunds. It was a practice that outraged legitimate Pastor John Carlson, who says his name was linked to the website without his consent.
According to court records, Rogovy took in millions of dollars by routinely using fake testimonials, fake names and stock photos.
While KOMO News was trying to find Rogovy to get answers, the state was already investigating the prayer scheme.
Said Assistant Attorney General Dan Davies.
Then we learned that Mr. Rogovy also was operating the Consumer Complaint Agency.
This website tricked consumers into paying to settle complaints that were never handled. Davies said:
It gives the appearance of being an official organisation like a government organization or a law firm.
On a third website, The Christian National Church, investigators say Rogovy used stock photos and fake testimonials to charge money for online ordination services.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn