I am sure this post will have many of my readers calling me naive. So be it. I am totally convinced that religious affinity frauds can be stopped. Why do I think that? Because religious affinity frauds are founded on blind trust, a lack of communication, victim's shame resulting in silence, and lack of education. All of these factors can be easily eliminated.
As we indicated in our last blog, religious institutions and groups can set clear written standards that must be met before anyone accesses their membership for ANY reason. In addition, all churches, religious groups and sects need to TALK about this kind of fraud and alert and educate their members as to its existence. If the minister, rabbi, bishop or members of a religious group or church are familiar with the characteristics of a religious affinity fraud- they will be more likely to recognize one and thwart it. As it is now, the perpetrators of religious affinity fraud rely upon the silence of church and religious leaders to facilitate their victimization of innocent persons of faith.
The silence of religious leaders AND the victims of prior religious affinity frauds is deafening. Only when religious leaders address this issue from their pulpit, temple or meeting hall (or how about from their television show?) will this kind of crime be stopped. In addition to educating their followers about the characteristics of such frauds, religious leaders need to let their flock know that there is NO SHAME in being the victim of a religious affinity fraud. Many victims feel that they are to blame in falling for the fraud and that such a result demonstrates their LACK OF FAITH.
Nothing could be further from the truth. In our experience, it is the MOST FAITHFUL who are victims of these schemes because of the devout nature of their faith. In other words, the victims of religious affinity frauds are among the most feverent believers and go along with these frauds believing that they are helping others as well as following the tenets of their faith. Fraud promoters who execute religious affinity frauds are very well aware of that fact and use the victims' strong religious beliefs AGAINST them and to manipulate them.
Someone needs to say this: Just because someone refers to themselves as a "minister", a "Man of God" or a "religious person" does not mean that it is true. Standing in a pulpit preaching does not make you a Christian, a believer or a religious leader- just like standing in your garage doesn't make you a car.
It is time for religious institutions and their leadership to provide communication and education for their members who are easy targets of fraud promoters AND for victims of religious affinity frauds to SPEAK UP . Only when religious leaders, prior religious affinity fraud victims and others share information about this kind of crime can it be stopped.
No one should swindle God's children in God's house and get away with it. No one. CJL