Scammer Must Repay $7.75M For Running Bogus Prayer Center & Consumer Complaint Service

When facing times of trouble, some people choose to believe in the power of prayer. Others put more trust in their ability to file an official complaint. A Seattle-based scam artist apparently figured he would cover all his bases, operating a trio of bogus companies covering everything from religion to consumer gripes.

Yesterday, the office of Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced that it had halted the business operations of one Benjamin Rogovy, who is on the hook to repay upwards of $7.75 million to around 165,000 victims.

Pay to Pray

Rogovy’s, which has been taken offline in response to the AG’s actions, had sold prayers for anywhere from $9 to $35. He also operated a Spanish language version of the site at It too has been taken down.

oracioncristianaAccording to Ferguson, Rogovy ran these sites under the fictional name of “Pastor John Carlson” and sent out weekly inspirational emails to users as the pastor. He even went so far as to create a LinkedIn profile for Pastor John, whose job experience included “Senior Pastor, Christian Prayer Center, January 2009 — present.”

But Pastor John wasn’t working solo. There was also the imaginary “Pastor Eric Johnston” who signed correspondence with consumers.

The sites told visitors that “One of our pastors… is also happy to assist with any religious ceremonies,” when in fact not a single pastor or minister worked for the site, which is pretty astounding, given that another of Rogovy’s for-profit sites, Christian National Church sold ordination services ranging in price from $139 to $289. Perhaps he didn’t want to pay his fee.

Speaking of Christian National Church, the AG’s office says that Rogovy used yet another fake minister, “Pastor Parker Robinson,” for the running of that site.

But it wasn’t just the men of God who were fake. So were the the testimonials on the site. Ferguson says the CPC used stock photos along with fake statements from supposed CPC users who had used prayer to get out of foreclosure, win the lottery, put cancer into remission, and not have a positive HIV test.

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The AG says that the site’s design and language deceived visitors into unwittingly signing up for “continued blessings,” meaning they would be repeatedly charged until the service was cancelled.

Over the course of four years, some 125,000 people paid more than $7 million to the two prayer sites operated by Rogovy.

If you purchased prayer services from Christian Prayer Service or Oracion Cristiana between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2015, you can receive a full refund. The CPC is supposed to email all customers by April 8 to let them know they are eligible for a refund, but customers must file a complaint with the state in order to receive that money.

“I believe in the power of prayer,” said Ferguson in a statement. “What I do not believe in and what I will not tolerate is unlawful businesses that prey upon people — taking advantage of their faith or their need for help — in order to make a quick buck.”

Put Your Complaints In The Round File

Rogovy’s secular scam involved a site dubbed the “Consumer Complaint Agency,” which promised it would help users resolve complaints if they paid up to $25 for the service.

Ferguson says Consumers were deceived by statements and representations on the CCA site that made the service look like some sort of official agency.

“The CCA was established to review and process complaints by the individual consumer in order to gain power through collective advocacy,” declared the site before it was taken down.

Through the use of things like “case numbers” and statements that CCA would “take action on your behalf,” Ferguson says customers may have also been misled into believing they were receiving professional legal assistance, but all CCA did was forward complaints on to businesses and give them 15 days to respond. What’s more, visitors to the site weren’t told about the filing fee until after they had gone through the process of filling out their complaint.

And just like with the Prayer Center, the CCA used bogus testimony to bolster its authenticity. I was ripped off for the last time,” a made-up character claimed on the now-defunct site. “Thanks for seeing my complaint through to the end.”

Over the course of four years, 40,000 people paid CCA for this service, resulting in $750,000 wasted.

CCA will be mailing $750,000 in refunds to customers in the coming weeks. In this case, victims do not need to file a complaint to be eligible for a refund.

In addition to the $7.75 million in refunds, the scammers must pay a total of $600,000 in attorney costs and fees. They also face a $1 million penalty if they violate the terms of this agreement.

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