Ponzi scheme bilks church members for $1M

April 8, 2009 7:39:01 AM PDT
A minister has admitted his role in two Ponzi schemes that cost members of a New Jersey church more than $1 million.Terence Mayfield, 47, pleaded guilty in federal court in Camden to one count each of mail and wire fraud.

The Phoenixville, Pa., resident admitted operating two phony real estate schemes between November 2006 and July 2008.

"He was going to come into the church to assist people getting out of debt, so that the people in the church could then go out to the community," said church attorney Jennifer Jack.

But prosecutors say that's not what happened.

Instead, through his My Home B.A.N.C. company, Mayfield duped dozens of members of the Church of Grace and Peace in Toms River into putting up thousands of dollars to buy income-generating real estate.

At his direction, some even re-financed their homes to get cash to invest.

"People began to ask; 'You took my money, where is the property?'" Jack said.

Instead of buying property, Mayfield has admitted using the money collected from church members to pay off other investors he had, and for his own personal expenses.

The scam was financially devasting for some congregants who lost large sums of money.

"We comforted, we counseled, we worked... and bad things happen to good people," said Pastor Walt Healy.

When Mayfield first arrived at the Church of Grace and Peace in 2006 he was treated as a guest minister .

At his home he would not discuss his guilty plea with Action News.

Pastor Healy describes Mayfield as a lovely, soft-spoken, knowledgable individual, whose actions turned out to be criminal.

He has this advice for the man who swindled so many out of their hard-earned money:

"Repent, Terry. Get right with God."

Mayfield is free on $100,000 bail. He'll be sentenced for his role in the Ponzi scheme in mid-July.

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