All Articles Tagged "Ephren Taylor"
Ephren Taylor II could have been the much needed entrepreneurial role model in the black community. He called himself the youngest-ever black CEO and his business, City Capital Corporation, was founded to supposedly assist charities and businesses in poor communities. Turns out, Taylor’s business wasn’t quite as giving as it appeared. CNN Money reports that the Securities and Exchange Commission is charging Taylor with running a Ponzi scheme, alleging he swindled more than $11 million from investors from 2008 to 2010.
“Ephren Taylor professed to be in the business of socially-conscious investing,” CNN Money reports David Woodcock, the director of the SEC’s Fort Worth regional office, said in a statement.
“Instead, he was in the business of promoting Ephren Taylor…He preyed upon investors’ faith and their desire to help others, convincing them that they could earn healthy returns while also helping their communities.”
Taylor proclaiming he’d been able to earn his first million while running a software company in high school. He had been featured on CNN, CNBC, Fox News and NPR, offering his take on running a successful business. He used the money from City Capital Corporation to fund his lavish lifestyle, promote his three books, travel on a speaking tour and promote his wife’s singing career.
“People have lost their homes, people have become estranged from their families,” Cathy Lergman, a lawyer for City Capital Corporation’s investors said. “He devastated a lot of people, and he targeted his own — he targeted African-American Christians, and those people have suffered greatly from being affiliated with Ephren Taylor.”
Wendy Connor, the former chief operating officer of Taylor City Capital Corporation is also facing charges. As of yet it is uncertain whether Taylor has legal representation. His spokeswoman disclosed that she no longer represented him.
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Lawd have mercy. Two lawsuits have been filed against a 29-year-old accused of scamming tens of millions of dollars from Christians in black churches throughout at least five states on the East Coast.
Ephren Taylor, who recently resigned as CEO of the holding company City Capital in North Carolina, apparently has been promoting fraudulent investment services since 2004, giving financial seminars from the pulpit on Sundays—with the top clergy’s blessing—and promising solid returns on investments. Most worshipers say, however, they haven’t received a penny, with some losing nearly $200,000 a piece in the scam.
According to Attorney Cathy Lerman, “He knew if he went to a Christian African-American and said, ‘I can take your hard-earned investment money, and you’re going to earn more money, but more importantly you’re going to do good for your church and community,’ that they would fall for it hook line and sinker.”
Members of the church run by Bishop Eddie long among others were targeted by Taylor, leading to a huge controversy for Long’s congregation in which about $1 million was lost by his followers through this scam. Long even took to YouTube to accuse Taylor of defrauding his followers.
Is the attorney correct in saying black Christian churches are easy targets for such scams? It sounds like the church is being accused of rendering faithful worshipers into gullible prey. But what part does a pastor like Long have in preventing men such as Taylor from having such easy access to the money of their flocks? Sure, targeting churches is wrong, but the pastors and other leaders have some responsibility for protecting their members. Not to mention the responsibility of the church members themselves for vetting all investments.
Hopefully, this case will be a lesson learned about this important spiritual teaching: “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.”
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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The last two weeks have revealed yet another challenge for Bishop Eddie Long, the members of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, the Atlanta community and America as a result of a business partnership gone bad with entrepreneur, Ephren Taylor, and his company Capital City Corporation.
As an Atlanta native and bishop that operates at the intersection of faith and finance, it concerns me to see investments go bad in the church and black community because to create a lasting legacy, people of color still have to be symbiotic. The black church is a necessary partner because it is the only “institution” we have that is even concerned about our journey from slavery to significance.
Members of churches like New Birth, which are primarily attended by Americans from the African Diaspora, have a responsibility to educate our community about how to impart a legacy of wealth and freedom for our future generations. This will take time, but how dare anyone be comfortable with African-Americans congregating to worship, dance and shout in churches that we neither build, finance or own, while those same mortgages are held by investors and institutions in other communities to the tune of $70 billion in principal alone?
We must to continue to learn. We must to continue to save and invest. We must continue to innovate beyond hair salons, multi-level marketing and record labels. We must start companies and invest in these startups. We must encourage and support our young entrepreneurs, even when they fail or make poor management decisions. We must encourage our brilliant money minds with the same magnitude and enthusiasm that we encourage our basketball slam-dunking athletes.
But for the “Ephren Taylor” deal, New Birth gets a C- on a scale of A to F.
Being young and failing is one thing, but Ephren Taylor is not the “black Bernie Madoff.” It’s one thing to invest money in a venture and it doesn’t produce the return that was projected. It is another thing to raise $65 billion over decades, not invest the money, and make payouts with newly invested money for 25 years. If we can give banks, insurance companies, automobile industries and money managers another chance to get it right after losing trillions of dollars in the recent economic recession, then we can givesmall business entrepreneurs like Ephren another chance. God already has.
Going forward, Ephren has to regroup and try again; this time, he has to be more conservative with investors’ monies and strive to produce an acceptable rate of return.
Where were his advisors? To sell or license those sweepstakes machines to the general public while sponsoring wealth tours in churches across America was naïve. The lines are too blurry to perceive this venture as “gambling” or “gaming without a license.”
On this deal, Ephren and City Capital gets an F.
The media also played a vital role because it aired Ephren’s commercials and infomercials. Now, the media reports the failure of their advertiser without providing enough facts to give viewers a balanced perspective. It is now accepted to entertain than to inform. Instead of facts, we get opinions from the reporter’s bias. When the investigative reporter doesn’t understand business or church, a standard business fee becomes a “cut” rather than a reasonable fee. Just as churches have a responsibility to deliver vetted information and opportunities for a winning future, so does the media.
Media gets a D on this deal.
We must learn that all investments come with the risk of losing your entire investment. The objective is to manage that risk and mitigate loss. Moving forward, I strongly advise that we invest only amounts of money in companies, funds and portfolios that we are willing to lose. Save the rest.
My heart goes out to the investors for the loss of time their IRAs represent. As for the customers’ willingness to “gamble” on those sweepstakes machines and then demand their money back, it leads me to believe not only did they need more information and time before investing, but a character check as well. Did they ask for their money back from the large financial institutions when their IRAs lost money prior to moving them?
For this reason, the investors and customers get an I for incomplete.
Ultimately, it’s a matter of personal responsibility – for all parties involved – including you and I.
Rodney Sampson is a serial entrepreneur, investor and consecrated Bishop who focuses on economic and innovative policy for the bishops and pastors he serves throughout North America, Europe and Africa via The International Bishops Conference. Follow Bishop Sampson on Twitter @rodneysampson or visit him online at www.kingdommanifestation.org or www.efactor.com.