Alleged Church Ponzi Schemer Arrested on Federal Fraud Charges


Lillian Wells, who met privately with Taylor in 2009 after hearing him speak at New Birth told ABC News in an interview last year that Taylor convinced her to invest her entire life savings in a North Carolina-based real estate venture, which he claimed was turning around homes in inner cities. In exchange, she said she was promised a 20 percent return on her money.

But, Wells said, when she wanted to recoup her initial investment, Taylor disappeared. Wells said she was forced to file for bankruptcy in September 2012.

Lisa Conway also became suspicious of Taylor after she went to work for him in 2010, but then she started to think that the money coming in was lining Taylor's pockets. In an interview with ABC News in 2012, Conway said investors began suspecting trouble as well. Panicked families began banging down the doors of the North Carolina office where she and Taylor worked, she said.

In Texas, Gary and Anita Dorio first met Taylor in Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church, and later gave Taylor $1.3 million, their life savings and her mother's retirement. And for about a year, they say it seemed like a good deal. At the beginning, Taylor was sending them monthly checks for $11,000.

The Dorios told ABC News in a previous interview that the paperwork Taylor provided was very convincing. They thought they were investing in an inner city laundromat, a juice bar and a gas station. But ultimately, they said they discovered that many of the businesses they thought they were investing in never even existed. In the end, the Dorios did walk away with a rental property in Cleveland, but it came with a catch: A $67,000 bill for back taxes on the property. The head office of the businesses Taylor listed in their documents was nothing more than a post office box inside a UPS store in Tennessee.

While the Dorios said they are still devout Christians, they have left Lakewood Church. Anita Dorio acknowledged that the church was careful not to explicitly endorse Taylor.

Lakewood Church told ABC News last year they opened their doors to Taylor to speak on the subject of "Biblical financial principles," but "when he began to promote his services as a financial adviser," he "was stopped from doing so."

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