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Former pastor accused of fraud

Posted by Connecticut Post on 2005/08/11 | Views: 340 |

Former pastor accused of fraud


A former pastor has been charged with defrauding a credit union and using the proceeds to participate in an e-mail scam in which con artists pose as Nigerian government officials.

MILFORD, Conn. -- A former pastor has been charged with defrauding a credit union and using the proceeds to participate in an e-mail scam in which con artists pose as Nigerian government officials.

Milford police this week arrested Victor Whitworth, 52, the former pastor of the now-closed Victory Temple of the Church of God in Christ in Waterbury.

Whitworth was charged with first-degree larceny and third-degree forgery. Police said he forged his name on a check for $16,245, then used the money to participate in an e-mail scam that they said has cost victims millions of dollars. They said he sent checks to New York, Canada and Nigeria.

Participants pose as Nigerian government officials, then try to persuade people to send them money and bank account numbers. People are told in e-mails or letters that they can earn money by helping to funnel funds from Nigeria to the U.S.

Whitworth told the Connecticut Post that he became part of the Nigerian scheme after he was fooled by e-mails claiming to be from Nigerian attorneys who promised donations to his church.

But he said he never defrauded Parda Federal Credit Union, which has an office in Milford. That's where police said he deposited the forged check.

"I am innocent," Whitworth said. "I pray to God that I will be exonerated."

Milford detectives launched an investigation of Whitworth in May. The check, issued by the town of Ossining, N.Y., was initially sent to the New York Power Authority. It's unclear how Whitworth allegedly intercepted it.

Officer Vaughan Dumas said investigators are attempting to find the people behind the e-mail scheme.

Whitworth said he considers himself another victim of the scam and will help police.

"Avoid the word Nigeria," he said.

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Information from: Connecticut Post, http://www.connpost.com

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