Ephren Taylor, II, Leader of “Building Wealth Tour,” Arrested on Fraud Charges
ATLANTA - Ephren Taylor, II, has been arrested on a federal indictment charging him and another defendant with defrauding investors across the country of more than $5 million.
“Mr. Taylor came into our community, promising hard-working citizens a way to make their retirement money go farther,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “The investments he pitched proved to be worthless, along with his promises.”
“This case demonstrates the wide-reaching effects of fraudulent investment schemes, its impact on innocent victims, our northern Georgia communities, and the importance of cooperation among our law enforcement partners to suppress this type of criminal activity," said Reginald Moore, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service Atlanta Field Office.
“Illegal activity involving the investment industry has brought financial ruin to many Americans,” stated Special Agent in Charge Veronica Hyman-Pillot, IRS Criminal Investigation. “The indictment of Mr. Taylor illustrates our commitment to pursuing those individuals who victimize investors, violate the public trust and enrich themselves financially at the expense of the investor.”
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges, and other information presented in court: From at least April 2009 through October 2010, Ephren Taylor, II, then CEO of City Capital Corporation, and his co-defendant Wendy Connor, the former COO of City Capital Corporation, participated in a conspiracy to defraud investors. The scheme allegedly defrauded hundreds of investors of more than $5 million nationwide.
As part of the scheme, Taylor traveled around the country on a “Building Wealth Tour,” where he gave wealth management seminars to church congregations. During this tour, Taylor claimed to be a socially conscious investor and falsely claimed that 20% of profits were donated to charity. One of the churches on the “Building Wealth Tour” was the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga. While there, Taylor and Connor met potential investors to discuss possible investments. Over 80 individuals from Georgia lost more than $2 million because of Taylor’s scheme.
The investments pushed by Taylor included investing in promissory notes, where the funds invested would be used to support small businesses, such as laundries, juice bars, and gas stations. Taylor is alleged to have falsely represented the revenues and returns for these businesses knowing that they were not profitable.
Taylor also pushed an investment in sweepstakes machines. Sweepstakes machines are computers loaded with various games that allow players to win cash prizes. Taylor published offering materials that falsely claimed the average sweepstakes machine would generate 300% investor returns. He also stated that the sweepstakes machine investments were 100% risk free.
Taylor allegedly knew that the investments he was touting were not profitable and that investors were not receiving actual returns from their investments.
As part of the scheme, Taylor, 31, of Overland Park, Kan., encouraged investors to use self-directed IRAs to make their investments. Many victims transferred their retirement savings to trust companies that acted as custodians for self-directed IRAs, expecting these funds to be used to fund the investments pushed by Taylor.
After victims funded their self-directed IRAs, Taylor and others directed the use of those funds. The money allegedly was not invested as promised, but rather was used to pay ongoing business expenses of City Capital, pay personal expenses for Taylor, and in some limited instances, to pay supposed returns to earlier investors.
Taylor was indicted by a federal grand jury on June 10, 2014.
Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
This case is being investigated by the United States Secret Service and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.
Assistant United States Attorney Christopher J. Huber is prosecuting the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the home page for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division is http://www.justice.gov/usao/gan/.