Bishop Eddie Long, the pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church who has been accused of the sexual coercion of young men, is back in the spotlight. He and another Atlanta-area megachurch leader, Gary Hawkins, are linked to a potentially fraudulent mortgage venture, according to CBS Atlanta.
The venture, Matrix Capital, promised to lower homeowners' mortgages for a $1,500 upfront fee. But police said thousands of customers that paid the fee lost their homes anyway.
And most of the alleged victims ended up in need of Atlanta bankruptcy lawyers, according to police.
Matrix Capital mastermind Fred Lee, a member of New Birth, solicited most of his clients at the church. Police believe he exploited their trust as fellow church members to advance his alleged scam.
CBS Atlanta reporter Wendy Saltzman tracked him down at New Birth and asked him if he was licensed for such work, to which he reportedly replied, "No, not at all. But hold on, stop, stop, stop, stop."
Reporters said Fred Lee held seminars on church property every Wednesday night in order to persuade people into paying him the fee for a promised lowering of their mortgage payments. Fellow pastor Gary Hawkins, who was the face of Matrix Capital's promotional video, similarly promoted the service at Voices of Faith church.
Former church member Sheila Robinson, who also was featured in the promotional video, has since come forward with her story. She claims she paid the $1,500 fee but later discovered Matrix Capital hadn't made a single call to her bank. She explains how she and others were lured in:
"When my bishop told the whole church, it had a lot of credibility. He used his credibility and that's what I think a lot of people were hanging in on. I know me personally, it was all because of that."
Although Eddie Long said in a statement that Matrix Capital no longer holds seminars at New Birth, reporters confirmed that another executive is holding presentations at the church.
Regardless of what led to your financial insolvency, Georgia bankruptcy lawyers can help you get your life back on track.