Woman claims - Pastors scammed me out of $5 million
A retired accountant said she is now at her wits ends after shelling out more than $5 million to two pastors, who claimed to be selling a property, as she is yet to receive the land or her money back after more than two years.
"I keep getting promises and nothing is forthcoming. I want my money, and I don't want it in pieces because I paid them one time. I told them I'm not trying to punish them. I just want my money," a frustrated Alice Brown* told THE STAR.
She said the pastors, who are two sisters, told her that they owned the land located in Mona Heights, St Andrew, and they had run into some arrears with the taxes. She said the pastors said they wanted to sell the land because they paid the owed sum and wanted to rid themselves of the property.
Brown said she had no reason to doubt the women, given their standing as religious leaders, so she gladly entered into a sale agreement with them, dated December 31, 2015. The agreement stated that the property is registered in someone else's name, but the sisters will obtain the title and transfer it to Brown by February 15, 2015.
Brown provided THE STAR with documentation to show that she paid $5 million for the property, and a further $40,000 for the sales agreement.
However, she got suspicious when the date passed and she did not receive the title for the land.
Blaming the government
"A lot of things I was asking them, and they responded, 'I'd rather not say'. They kept blaming the government for not finalising the agreement with the land title. I even asked her (one of the pastors) which ministry it was, and who they are dealing with from the ministry so I could speak with them, and she said she would rather not say," Brown said.
After much pressing, Brown said the pastors reluctantly gave her the name of a man who they claimed was the government agent responsible for processing the land title. However, Brown said when she contacted the individual, he said he had no direct business with the pastors and he was not a government representative.
This, along with several other red flags, caused Brown to contact her lawyer about the matter. They subsequently filed a claim in March 2015 against the pastors and other parties involved in the sale of the property.
Brown said one of the pastors then contacted her requesting time to repay the money, but that is yet to happen.
Acting on advice of her lawyers, Brown then reported the matter to the Fraud Squad in April 2015, but to date, no charges have been made.
Yesterday, the detective corporal, who is investigating the matter, told THE STAR that he recently received the case from his superiors and he is working on the matter. However, he said he could not give a timeline for when an arrest would be made.
"I understand the fact that she (Brown) is in a situation, and that her money is out there, but things have to be done in a particular way. Given the fact that it is a fraudulent matter, it's not a straight forward thing," the investigating officer said.
Several calls to the implicated pastors' phones went unanswered.
*Name changed by request