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Three years later, mortgage scam still haunts Alabama church

In a recent court filing, the Ensley Church of Christ in Birmingham, Ala., claims that a 2009 mortgage scam “has obscured the legal title to its property,” the Birmingham News reports.
The church was a victim of Charles A. McKuhn Jr., who traveled to several states and met with pastors and church officials, falsely representing himself as a banker and persuading them to pay him large sums of money for debt reduction and lines of credit for building funds, the Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tenn., reported in 2011.
The Ensley church paid McKuhn’s company $106,540. McKuhn was sentenced to 17 1/2 years in federal prison. (See our 2011 blog post about the incident.)
The Birmingham News reports:

Ensley Church of Christ said late last month in Jefferson Circuit County Court documents it was a victim of a Tennessee-based mortgage fraud perpetrated by a company called Taurian Worldwide, whose principal was sentenced to almost 20 years in jail for his scams.
The trouble happened after the church borrowed on its property from Taurian, who became the mortgage holder. The loan never happened — it was a scam to begin with that separated many churches in the Southeast from origination fees and other amounts.
Now, more than three years later, the church’s right to its property is obscured by the fraudulent mortgage, the court filing says. While it has secured a new loan to construct a new building, it cannot get title insurance because of the old mortgage, according to the court filing.
“In or about November 2009, the church determined that Taurian never intended to fund the loan, and suspected that Taurian was operating a mortgage fraud scheme and defrauding churches, among other entities,” the court filing said. “Nonetheless, the mortgage persists as a cloud on the church’s title to the property.”

Read the full story.
Has your congregation been the victim of a similar scam? What advice do you have for churches to responsibly handle debt without falling victim to a con artist or predatory lender?

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