What's in a name? Plenty, if a scammer's convincing you it's a c - WDRB 41 Louisville News

What's in a name? Plenty, if a scammer's convincing you it's a church

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A letter comes from a church, and it sounds like a familiar name but it is not who you might think.  The group wants your money and it's using tricky tactics to get it.

Dan Lane knew something wasn't right when he received one piece of mail.  He's the Executive Director of Saint Matthews Area Ministries and he recognized a mailing from a group calling itself Saint Matthews Churches.

"They call this the prayer rug," he says, "and as you can see it's a 11 by 17 poster with a picture of Jesus on it."  The package contains various pieces of Christian faith, handouts, the prayer rug, and scriptures on spiritual gifts and prosperity.  Then it asks for your money, calling it your "gift to God's work."

Above it you write how much money you need in return the church will pray for it.  Lane says it's a scam and what they're really preying on is people:  "The big thing here is the exploitation in our area, thinking people may be associated with us when it has nothing to do with us."

Saint Mamm's is a non-profit collection of 14 local churches.  But a group out of Tulsa, Oklahoma seems to target communities with a Saint Matthews name.

The Better Business Bureau knows the scam well.  Nationwide, we're told their offices have taken in more than 100 complaints.  Reanna Smith-Hamblin explains, "What we do is contact them and ask them for information, funding, how they run, do they have a board?"

The answer from the group is that it's a church, not an organization or charity.  It claims it does not solicit donations and states it does not want to disclose information about itself. 

Lane says the group has raked in $105 million through its mailings.  There are questions about where the church even exists.  Their mailings have no phone numbers and their website lists no service times.  Yet they include testimonials to draw donors in.

Lane says if there's a bible lesson here it's, "knowing where your money is going, investigate, and be informed."

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