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Howard Ain, Troubleshooter: Scammed at Church

Updated: Monday, March 10 2014, 07:30 PM EDT
CINCINNATI (Howard Ain) -- Con artists look for people who are very trusting and one man knew just where to find them.

Its always important to do extensive research before entrusting your money with someone.  And, as you'll see, that includes people you meet in church or anywhere else.

An anonymous fraud victim tells us, "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?"
 
This man is angry and embarrassed after losing $60,000 dollars in a scam run by a man he met at his own church.

He continues, "I've lost my trust in human beings, I cannot trust anybody."
 
Terence Mayfield was invited 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.
 
Daniel Forrester, a US Postal Inspector, said, "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."
 
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," Forrester continued.
 
But it was all a scam and just one more layer to an elaborate ponzi scheme Mayfield had been running for years.
 
The Postal Inspector continued, "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."
 
More than a dozen victims lost around $1.2 million dollars in this 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," Forrester said.
 
The financial and emotional toll has been devastating.
 
The anonymous, fraud victim tells us, "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."
 
Mayfield was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to 8 years in prison followed by three years probation.  Although he was ordered to pay restitution the victim doesn't expect to see a cent and says he believes Mayfield will scam again.
               
In fact, this was Mayfield's second run-in with law having been convicted in 2005 for a scheme costing people 200,000 dollars.        

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