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Owner of 'Pay to Pray' Website Ordered to Return $7.8M to Consumers

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posted on Mar, 20 2016 @ 08:41 AM
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It's hard to believe that people these days fall prey to these types of scam artists. Imagine, being so vulnerable (and possibly depressed ) that you would actually PAY MONEY for prayer??? More taint on Chrisianity, and another black mark for those who honestly are trying to spread the 'word'......

Well these scammers are now having to pay back almost 8MILL due to their dishonesty....
Rightly so....




The man behind the Christian Prayer Center website, which Washington state authorities say charged people across the U.S. desperate for the power of prayer upward of $35 for spiritual support, is now on the hook to pay back more than $7 million to tens of thousands of customers, the state Attorney General's Office said.

Benjamin Rogovy of Seattle used "systematic deception," according to authorities, while running the for-profit Christian Prayer Center website as well other prayer websites and a consumer complaint service. The yearlong investigation was sparked by a consumer who had written in to the agency, saying she feared she'd been taken advantage of, authorities said.


Prayer Scam





posted on Mar, 20 2016 @ 08:44 AM
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Disgusting and vile.

I bet their target demographic was the elderly and sick as well...



They're not Christians.
Not by a long shot.



posted on Mar, 20 2016 @ 08:48 AM
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a reply to: ReadLeader

How did they conclude it was a scam?

He did what he advertized. He prayed for people who gave him money.

What's the difference between that and people like Benny Hinn or the plethora of others?



posted on Mar, 20 2016 @ 08:53 AM
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What's the difference from going to a brick and mortar church and putting money in the collection plate?

Religion as a whole is "systematic deception" and has always been a for profit venture for those brazen enough to capitalize on it.



posted on Mar, 20 2016 @ 08:56 AM
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If you were to have read the article in it's entirety,



"At the basic level, it's a scam and he was asking people to give money under deceptive circumstances to have prayers done for them. ... Pay to pray. ... Nothing about it was real," state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said.

The Christian Prayer Center website not only charged consumers $9 to $35 for prayers but also "deliberately" confused some consumers into signing up for recurring monthly payments, according to authorities.

"The AGO investigation found that once consumers submitted and paid for a prayer request, they were directed to a Web page that gave them the option to receive 'continued blessings.' The information was presented in a confusing manner and inadequately disclosed that the charges would reoccur until the consumer cancelled," the Attorney General's Office said in a statement Wednesday, detailing the investigation.


Thanks for posting




posted on Mar, 20 2016 @ 08:59 AM
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originally posted by: ReadLeader

If you were to have read the article in it's entirety,



"At the basic level, it's a scam and he was asking people to give money under deceptive circumstances to have prayers done for them. ... Pay to pray. ... Nothing about it was real," state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said.

The Christian Prayer Center website not only charged consumers $9 to $35 for prayers but also "deliberately" confused some consumers into signing up for recurring monthly payments, according to authorities.

"The AGO investigation found that once consumers submitted and paid for a prayer request, they were directed to a Web page that gave them the option to receive 'continued blessings.' The information was presented in a confusing manner and inadequately disclosed that the charges would reoccur until the consumer cancelled," the Attorney General's Office said in a statement Wednesday, detailing the investigation.


Thanks for posting



I read that. Thanks for not answering the question.

He did nothing that a lot of websites do.

Is it his fault nobody was smart enough to read the T&C's?

Would it be ATS's fault if I didn't read the T&C's in it's entirety?

As much as I don't like organized religion I think this sets a bad precedent.


edit on 20-3-2016 by IslandOfMisfitToys because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 20 2016 @ 09:03 AM
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a reply to: IslandOfMisfitToys

I agree. Fifty percent of any population is ignorant, and that isn't against the law.



posted on Mar, 20 2016 @ 09:08 AM
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a reply to: IslandOfMisfitToys

Agreed. My thought process is that they most likely preyed on the elderly, and possibly very depressed individuals. It's just sad...

Thanks for posting




posted on Mar, 20 2016 @ 09:12 AM
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originally posted by: IslandOfMisfitToys

originally posted by: ReadLeader

If you were to have read the article in it's entirety,



"At the basic level, it's a scam and he was asking people to give money under deceptive circumstances to have prayers done for them. ... Pay to pray. ... Nothing about it was real," state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said.

The Christian Prayer Center website not only charged consumers $9 to $35 for prayers but also "deliberately" confused some consumers into signing up for recurring monthly payments, according to authorities.

"The AGO investigation found that once consumers submitted and paid for a prayer request, they were directed to a Web page that gave them the option to receive 'continued blessings.' The information was presented in a confusing manner and inadequately disclosed that the charges would reoccur until the consumer cancelled," the Attorney General's Office said in a statement Wednesday, detailing the investigation.


Thanks for posting



I read that. Thanks for not answering the question.

He did nothing that a lot of websites do.

Is it his fault nobody was smart enough to read the T&C's?

Would it be ATS's fault if I didn't read the T&C's in it's entirety?

As much as I don't like organized religion I think this sets a bad precedent.



Apparently, he did something illegal as he was ordered to repay the victims. I'd bet that if he doesn't, there will be further consequences for him. Is it the government's fault that he was not smart enough to read the CFR T&C's in their entirety?

Now if we could just get Congress to pass a death penalty law for convicted robocall kingpins........



posted on Mar, 20 2016 @ 09:13 AM
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a reply to: ReadLeader

I wholeheartedly agree that it was a scam. But so is much of life.




posted on Mar, 20 2016 @ 09:18 AM
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a reply to: pteridine

But I'm wondering why it is any different from buying 12 dvd's for a penny and then being locked into (i.e. not reading the fine print) having to buy 2 more at $50 each?

Why isn't the government going after that company?

Or Benny Hinn?

Or?

Or................psychics.


edit on 20-3-2016 by IslandOfMisfitToys because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 20 2016 @ 09:41 AM
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originally posted by: SgtHamsandwich
What's the difference from going to a brick and mortar church and putting money in the collection plate?

Religion as a whole is "systematic deception" and has always been a for profit venture for those brazen enough to capitalize on it.


My thinking exactly. This guy has nothing on tele-preachers and churches.



posted on Mar, 20 2016 @ 09:47 AM
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a reply to: ReadLeader

All these people are going to get their money back, and promptly send it off the the next faith healer they come upon.



posted on Mar, 20 2016 @ 09:55 AM
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originally posted by: IslandOfMisfitToys
a reply to: pteridine

But I'm wondering why it is any different from buying 12 dvd's for a penny and then being locked into (i.e. not reading the fine print) having to buy 2 more at $50 each?

Why isn't the government going after that company?

Or Benny Hinn?

Or?

Or................psychics.


I am not a prosecutor so I can't answer your question. I know that Psychic sites have been shut down. Benny Hinn has at least three huge churches and broadcasts his services on TV, so he must be considered a religion and can ask for donations. The scammers in question apparently had only a billing operation and did not ask for "donations." My bet would be that they didn't have a clause saying that if you can't donate anything, we'll pray for you anyway. It's just a T&C requirement and Rogovy didn't know about it. He should have read the fine print as he is in the 50% that are legally ignorant as per MOMof3.



posted on Mar, 20 2016 @ 09:56 AM
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originally posted by: windword
a reply to: ReadLeader

All these people are going to get their money back, and promptly send it off the the next faith healer they come upon.

Nailed it!



posted on Mar, 20 2016 @ 09:57 AM
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a reply to: Klassified

You don't go to the church and drop a couple of bucks in the collection plate and then your good for life for the "services" of the church.

They keep on sending that plate around and not only expect you put in, but to put in a certain percentage of your income.

Heck, $35 bucks sounds like a deal compared to what a church wants for essentially the SAME empty "service". All without having to leave the comforts of your home. Church pews just arn't that comfortable.



posted on Mar, 20 2016 @ 10:07 AM
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listening to the video on that page, it kind of sounds like he raised up the names of some well known ministers and gave the impression that those ministers would also be praying, which those ministers didn't even give him permission to use his name, let alone pray for anyone...
so, well, the people paid for services that were never intended to be delivers, at least when you pay a penny for 12 dvds and an agreement to buy a couple more, you get the dvds?



posted on Mar, 20 2016 @ 10:32 AM
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If I think that this guy got into trouble because he didn't mask his intentions well enough. He was using fictitious characters as his ministers. That puts it in the realm of being fraudulent because obviously a fictitious character cannot do a prayer request.

Some people brought up the point of television evangelists. While I agree that they are questionable in their methods, they're careful about working within the bounds of legality.

In deference to the OP and not trying to derail this thread, I'm posting a video by John Oliver that sheds some light on just how unscrupulous these people really are.



edit on 3/20/2016 by N3k9Ni because: typo



posted on Mar, 20 2016 @ 10:38 AM
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originally posted by: IslandOfMisfitToys
How did they conclude it was a scam?He did what he advertized. He prayed for people who gave him money.

If he was taking in that much money, it's unlikely that he had enough time to pray in any real way for all of them.

The reasons quoted in the link include offering fake testimonies, and not being transparent about the fact that people were signed up for more payments than they expected.



posted on Mar, 20 2016 @ 10:49 AM
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a reply to: dawnstar

Exactly! "fake religious leaders, stock photos and fictitious testimonials", " information was presented in a confusing manner and inadequately disclosed that the charges would reoccur until the consumer cancelled", they even had a fake pastor with fake online presence. He even had another bogus business...


a for-profit business that promised consumers it would advocate on their behalf regarding their complaints against businesses. Ferguson said that instead, the agency had "charged consumers up to $25 for doing little more than passively forwarding complaints."



"Rogovy's actions violate the state Consumer Protection Act, which forbids businesses from making false claims, and the Charitable Solicitations Act, which prohibits churches and charities from using misleading or deceptive statements in any charitable solicitation," the statement said.


Over the years, what I have found interesting is that Martin Luther started the Protestant Reformation, dissenting against lavishness, corruption and the sale of indulgences..."As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, The soul from purgatory springs." slogan from a Catholic indulgence seller... yet I find some Protestant churches building "crystal cathedrals", promoting lavish lifestyle for clergy, running churches as large businesses, selling religion.



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