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Fraud at Church

Who to call when you’ve been embezzled.

Rufus Harvey, a veteran certified fraud examiner, recently conducted an investigation of a pastor who embezzled more than a million dollars over the course of several years. Ultimately, the perpetrator was caught and convicted and sent to prison. It was his controlling personality that allowed him to conceal his illicit activities from the church. People simply were too intimidated by him to challenge his words or actions. When the totality of the situation emerged and the church realized how badly they had been duped, the entire congregation and staff became demoralized. Ultimately, they disbanded. Fraud robs a church of much more than just money.

Churches can be deceived by a quiet and sneaky perpetrator, or intimidated by a demanding and controlling individual. When a church first discovers they've been embezzled, it goes through a "how could this happen to us?" phase. Once ...

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Dan Busby is the president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), an oversight and accreditation organization.

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  • August 2, 2010

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