Ephren Taylor Accused of $11 Million Christian Ponzi Scheme by SEC


Anita Dorio acknowledged that the church was careful not to explicitly endorse Taylor.

"Before the seminar began, a staff member did make the announcement, 'We're not endorsing this person. We're not telling you to invest with him. We're just here to listen to what he has to say.'"

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

The Dorios said while they don't really want to blame church leadership and said they did warn them about Taylor after the alleged fraud was discovered. Anita Dorio said the response she received from the church was, "'Oh Anita, how could you?' Like I should have known better."

At New Birth Baptist Church in Atlanta, Lillian Wells said she didn't get much further when she spoke to her pastor, Bishop Eddie Long. He came in and said, 'The church ain't got no money," she said.

In 2011, Long released a video pleading with Taylor to return the money.

The church told ABC News, "They do continue to hope the responsible parties will restore the funds they took from congregants at New Birth and churches around the country."

Gary and Anita Dorio say they have forgiven Taylor and place their hopes for justice in God's hands.

"It's not the easiest thing to do, but we live by what the word of god says," said Gary Dorio. "And we have to forgive Ephren. We have come to a place where we've forgiven him. We pray for him, his family."

So where is Ephren Taylor exactly? ABC's "The Lookout" received a tip to head over to Lenexa, Kan., specifically a shop called, Panacea Massage, to talk with Ephren Taylor and his wife.

After what they say were a string of bizarre incidents, workers at Panacea Massage became suspicious of one of their workers, a woman who called herself "Liz Taylor." Salon workers said they noticed her husband would arrive with her at work almost daily. And they said the couple would talk about their lost fortune.

Once the salon installed security cameras for added protection, they said the husband became suspicious. Workers said he said, "Be careful what you say, 'cause there's audio and there's night vision."

After this incident, workers looked at "Liz" Taylor's license and noticed the name on her identification was Meshelle Taylor.

After about 30 minutes of Googling her name, salon owner Pam Dinges said, "a whole can of worms opened up," and "the whole multi-million dollar scam thing all surfaced on the Internet. That's how it all came together. ... It was like, 'Oh my God.'"

When the salon workers made the connection that Meshelle was Ephren Taylor's wife, they emailed one ABC's sources, who called "The Lookout."

"The Lookout" team traveled to Kansas and found Ephren and Meshelle Taylor at an apartment complex, but they would not answer the team's questions. Ephren Taylor told "The Lookout," at one point, on camera, "I have no idea."

When "The Lookout" requested a formal interview with Ephren Taylor, his attorney told the team, "I have no comment on the SEC charges pending against Mr. Taylor. In addition, neither Mr. Taylor nor any members of his family, including his wife, wish to comment on this matter at this juncture."

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