The creator of a fake prayer website, which sold prayers to customers for payment, has been forced to pay restitution of up to $7.5 million to customers he swindled.
Christian Today reports that Benjamin Rogovy, from Seattle, created the for-profit company Christian Prayer Center (CPC) which sold prayers to 125,000 customers for $9-$35 per prayer.
Rogovy created a fake pastor named John Carlson who allegedly ran the website. Rogovy even created a LinkedIn profile for Carlson, describing him as “Senior Pastor, Christian Prayer Center, January 2009-present.”
Rogovy also used the name Eric Johnston as a supposed leader of the company.
The website included "fictitious testimonials from consumers using stock photos that claimed they successfully prayed to avoid home foreclosure, deliver a healthy baby, win the lottery, obtain negative results of an HIV test and put cancer into remission."
Rogovy is being forced to pay back all the money he took under false pretenses to the victims of the scam.
"I believe in the power of prayer," said Attorney General BobFerguson, when speaking of Rogovy’s scheme and his conviction. "What I do not believe in and what I will not tolerate is unlawful business that prey upon people – taking advantage of their faith or their need for help – in order to make a quick buck."
The Washington State Attorney General’s office has confirmed that neither Carlson nor Johnston are real people.
"We thank you for all the prayers, and we cherish the opportunity to have created a place where Christians could meet to support each other," said a message on the website which is now shut down.
Those who purchased prayers from CPC between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2015 are able to receive a full refund and can file a complaint with the Washington State Attorney General’s office until June 11, 2016.
Publication date: March 17, 2016