Balboa, United Leasing Included in CA Church Scam Lawsuit

California attorney general Kamala D. Harris filed a lawsuit seeking restitution and civil penalties totaling $803,100 in a scam that defrauded 33 African American churches in Southern California. Promoters promised that the leased computer kiosks would enhance the experience of parishioners, but the scheme ended up creating big debts for the churches.

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, names Television Broadcasting Online, Urban Interfaith Network, Willie Perkins, Michael Morris, Wayne Wilson, Tanya Wilson, Balboa Capital and United Leasing Associates of America. It charges them with violations of the state’s unfair competition and false advertising laws, and seeks restitution, civil penalties and an injunction to prevent any further illegal activities.

According to the complaint, Balboa and United are liable because the other defendants were acting as their agents and because, even after the leasing companies learned of the misrepresentations, they failed to alert the churches to the scam and “vigorously continued to enforce the terms of the leases.” When the churches failed to pay the monthly lease payments, Balboa and United filed collection suits, seeking fully payment plus interest, attorney’s fees and costs.

The complaint notes that defendants Television Broadcasting Online, Urban Interfaith Network, Willie Perkins, and Michael Morris “engaged in a nationwide scam” in which they persuaded “195 African American churches in 15 different states to enter into expensive and onerous leases for shoddy computer equipment housed in wooden cabinets.” They promised the churches the kiosks would be free, advertisers would make the lease payments and the churches would be under no financial obligation.

To view the entire news release, click here.

For the complaint filed by California attorney general, click here.

To follow the case first reported in 2009 on click here.

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