An Overland Park native is accused of masterminding a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme with investigators saying he ripped off hundreds of churchgoers across the U.S.
The 31-year-old Atlanta area man is now in jail after facing fraud charges from an IRS, Secret Service and U.S. Attorney's Office investigation. He is accused of using the money to fund a lavish lifestyle.
Ephren Taylor II traveled the country on his "Building Wealth Tour," which were wealth management seminars to church congregations. Authorities claimed he said that 20 percent of the funds would go to charities, when that was not the case. Authorities say he swindled more than $5 million from churchgoers and others by convincing them to invest in his company, Capital Corp.
One of Taylor's alleged victims was Lillian Wells, of Atlanta. She claims that Taylor talked her into investing her life savings of $122,000.
"He needs to be punished, he really need to be punished," Wells said. "If they could sit the jail on top of him and forget him that would be great."
Wells is so angry because she is going to lose her home.
More than 80 people in Georgia lost more than $2 million. One of the churches that Taylor spoke at was New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, GA.
Investigators say Taylor allegedly knew all along the promises he was preaching were empty and investors would not get a return.
Taylor is also accused of convincing people to invest in computers loaded with games that he called "sweepstakes machines," telling them the investment was 100 percent risk-free.
"Mr. Taylor came into our community, promising hardworking citizens a way to make their retirement money go farther," U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said. "The investments he pitched proved to be worthless, along with his promises."
Taylor's co-defendant is Wendy Connor who was COO of City Capital Corp.
Allegedly the funds were used for the company's expenses as well as personal expenses for Taylor. Few returns were seen, authorities said.
Taylor was indicted June 10.
Taylor's father lives in southern Johnson County. He refused comment on Tuesday.
Wells is one of 10 Atlanta area church members suing Taylor, City Capital, New Birth church and its pastor. They allege that the church pastor pressured congregants to invest in the scheme.
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