Companies sued for allegedly defrauding African-American religious groups

Keith Loria Apr. 13, 2009, 2:54pm

Peter Nickles

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - District of Columbia Attorney General Peter Nickles has filed charges against individuals and companies for allegedly defrauding local religious congregations.

The District has filed suit against Television Broadcasting Online, Inc., Urban Interfaith Network, Inc., Michael Morris, Willie Perkins, and several national leasing companies, who are believed to have engaged in a nationwide scam to defraud African-American church congregations of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The suit claims the scam targeted up to fifty predominantly-African-American church congregations in the District, as well as many more in Maryland, Michigan, Wisconsin, Texas, California and other states.

"While it is not surprising that in tough economic times we see an increase in financial scams, what is unconscionable is that these Defendants allegedly targeted their scheme at religious congregations-groups whose funds are often used to feed the poor, assist people with housing, and otherwise benefit those in need in their community," Nickles said.

The suit alleges that the defendants approached numerous congregations offering free computer equipment, but it was anything but. As part of the agreement to receive the equipment, congregation officials were required to unwittingly sign documents that obligated the groups to long-term lease payments that amounted to $50,000 or more.

The AG's office said the computer equipment was valued at no more than a few thousand dollars, and at times, did not function properly.

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