Church Embezzlement | Church Fraud | Atlanta, Ga Private Investigator



Church Embezzlement | Church Fraud | Atlanta, GA Private Investigator

Fraud & Crisis in the Pulpit

How many of us would link theft, sexual abuse, misconduct and conflicts of interest to our local church or favorite ministry? We think it a rarity when it does happen. We might explain it away and certainly it would “never happen in our church”. The topic is unpleasant, instead let’s talk about quantum physics or the benefits of needle point. How often does it happen? Unfortunately more than you might think.

• A Pennsylvania pastor confesses to insurance fraud when he falsely claims high valued musical instruments are stolen from his church.
• A Southern Baptist Convention pastor in Maryland is accused of fraud related crimes including filing false statements on behalf of his church. The pastor left the church during the investigation and took an interim, then permanent pastor’s position in Georgia when he later resigned. He was convicted of the Maryland crimes and sentenced to 37 months in prison.
• Sex abuse claims flood the Catholic Church and show no signs of diminishing.
• Con artists posing as church members swindle other trusting members into investment schemes and anything the imagination brings to mind.

The collateral damage –

Churches split, life long friendships dissolve, financial losses ensue, and members are spiritually deflated while questioning God. Evangelical efforts may be severed; secularists will point with delight and scarring ensues. Even when brought to light some supporters of the Reverend Charlatan or the trusted Ms. Sticky, refuse to believe the incident ever occurred.

Religious bodies may act swiftly and prudently with a crisis. The guilty party may even confess when confronted. But all the evidence and the correct conclusion may not result. Fear makes the guilty very clever and church bodies may be duped or only discover a portion of the facts. Disbelief, compassion, amateur sleuthing, rationalization or plain uncertainty can and does distort reality. There are legal issues to consider. There are some court protections for the church but they are not all inclusive. Oh, and the embarrassment of it all. If the misdeed is kept quiet but later discovered, distrust and dissent can result. Exposing the problem may be too painful – Donations could drop, ministerial jobs lost and fear can grip the elders. Large church co-ops and world wide ministries which operate largely from donations can become defunct. More than one televangelist can testify to this.

Honesty is the best solution for managing a crisis but one needs a clear understanding of what and how it exactly occurred. Consider an unbiased professional versed in conducting examinations. Open skepticism from a neutral party is needed. A specialized skill set can offer some peace and clarity during chaos.

Zane Kinney, CFE

4 thoughts on “Church Embezzlement | Church Fraud | Atlanta, Ga Private Investigator

  1. An honest man has no reason to fear the light of day. Churches are built on a much higher level of trust than a private business, which makes them especially vulnerable to fraud.

  2. People view churches and ministries as being infallible. The truth is that any organization, profit, non-profit, government, and all industries employ people and it is people that commit acts of wrongdoing, not the organization itself. Better to be prepared for the worst and take the necessary steps to protect yourself.

    1. Excellent points Will. How about those who faithfully give to their churches – They should have a comfort level of knowing those hard earned donations have layers of protection.

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