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Social Capitalist Bilked Churchgoers
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On Thursday, the Securities and Exchange Commission brought charges against Ephren Taylor II, a self-described “social capitalist” who often appeared on national TV talk shows. Ephren was charged of fraudulently selling $7 million of notes that promised to bear 12 percent to 20 percent interest for funding small businesses like laundries, juice bars and gas stations.

The SEC also alleged that Taylor, 29, had raised $4 million by selling “sweepstakes” machines with casino-style games and the promise of 72 to 2,400 percent return per year. Taylor’s company, City Capital Corp would promise the purchasers of donating revenue to charity.

According to the complaint filed by the SEC in Atlanta federal court, instead of donating any money to charity, Taylor had diverted the money to fund his wife’s singing career, pay bills, promote his books and hire image consultants.

  
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Taylor had emphasized to people that he was the youngest black CEO of a public company, and the son of a Christian minister who believed in “giving back.” Taylor conducted a multicity “Building Wealth Tour” and spoke to congregations across the country. He also appeared on TV programs like “The Montel Williams Show” and “The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch.” Congregations targeted by him included the likes of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia and Georgia.

According to the charges, more than 100 investors from the New Birth Church brought the notes from Ephren while another 250 investors bought his machines. The scheme ran from 2008 to 2010.

The director of the SEC office in Fort Worth, Texas, David Woodcock mentioned in a statement that “Ephren Taylor professed to be in the business of socially conscious investing … Instead, he was in the business of promoting Ephren Taylor.”

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The New Birth Church issued a statement reading, “We have always remained faithful that Ephren Taylor and City Capital Corporation would be held accountable for their actions in this matter. We are prayerful that they will move swiftly to do the right thing.”

Taylor is in hiding, his whereabouts unknown, and he has failed to respond to multiple subpoenas.



City Capital has supposedly moved on to the business of ‘bringing light to the people’ and has entered the roofing and solar panel through its ERX Energy unit.

The case is SEC v. City Capital Corp et al, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia, No. 12-01249.



 

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