Suit Filed Over Alleged Scientology Real Estate Scam

I wrote recently about an alleged real estate scam by the “Church” of Scientology. Now a couple who are former members have filed a federal lawsuit over it in Florida and are promising more lawsuits to come from others who contributed large amounts of money for the program.

A federal lawsuit filed Wednesday accuses the Church of Scientology of using fraudulent, deceptive and high-pressure practices to coax millions of dollars from its members.

Attorneys for the California couple who filed the 35-page complaint in Tampa said they have talked to dozens of former church members and several similar lawsuits are coming.

Plaintiffs Luis and Rocio Garcia of Irvine, Calif., name five Scientology corporations as defendants, including the church’s main entity in Clearwater. The former church members say they gave Scientology more than $420,000 for the massive “Super Power” building in Clearwater that has never opened, church services they never received and humanitarian projects that never materialized.

The deception went as far as producing phony videos of church earthquake relief efforts to induce parishioners to give, said the Garcias’ attorney, Theodore Babbitt of West Palm Beach.

The lawsuit focuses on Scientology leader David Miscavige, saying he exerts control over an “interdependent network of entities” that extracts as much money as it can from parishioners and denies promised refunds. It alleges the church improperly uses donations to finance Miscavige’s “lavish lifestyle” and to stifle critics with private investigators and lawyers.

If they win this suit, it could well be the beginning of the end for Scientology. Between that and Belgium charging the court with a range of criminal activities, the lid could be blown off this cult once and for all.

11 comments on this post.
  1. naturalcynic:

    the lid could be blown off this cult once and for all.</blockquote It's more like the volcano in Dianetics. The cap on the lava lake has been blown off many times, yet another one forms and holds until the next eruption.

  2. TGAP Dad:

    After Scientology, I would like to see prosecutors focus on Amway, Herbalife and their ilk. Although with the DeVos’ political connections, that is about as likely as snow in the Sahara.

  3. raven:

    The worms are turning.

    Scientology is famous for its use of lawyers and courts. Live by the lawyer, die by the lawyer.

    And it is over the usual. Money. For all the religion’s claims to save your soul, they always seem rather intensely interested in…money and power.

  4. cuervodecuero:

    Is this lawsuit related to the Scientology sponsored fluff piece that highlighted all the ‘churches’ being opened to grand fanfair?

  5. baal:

    I read (past and present) a lot of sci-fi and when I made it to L. Ron Hubbard, I managed a few books. They had a theme on religion – it’s a way to fleece people of cash. I found out about Dianetics and Scientology later and was more than a little surprised; hadn’t the followers read his sci-fi? Once you do, it’s clear the whole thing was intended as a scam from the get go.

  6. Gregory in Seattle:

    If they win this suit, it could well be the beginning of the end for Scientology. Between that and Belgium charging the court with a range of criminal activities, the lid could be blown off this cult once and for all.

    Not likely: cults have a habit of persisting long after the founders were exiled in disgrace. Anyway, there is already a pretty strong “Free Zone” movement which practices Dianetics and auditing apart from the church’s control: that is not going to go away soon, no matter what happens to the CoS.

  7. abb3w:

    Looks like it’s almost time to be taking a comically large briefcase stuffed with cash off to a country with no extradition.

  8. d.c.wilson:

    What Scientology needs to do is buy some credibility. Crazy celebrities are great for milking the masses, but if they to weather this, they should buy a newspaper and a few members of Congress. Surely with their strongholds in Florida and California, there a few congressional districts they can buy. Once they have support in government and the media, they’ll have respectability.

    It worked for the Moonies.

    BTW, does anyone else think Miscavige lives by the Ferangi Rules of Aquisition?

  9. Draken:

    The deception went as far as producing phony videos of church earthquake relief efforts

    Isn’t that where they parade around the dead and tortured bodies of the victims holding an E-meter?

  10. Gregory in Seattle:

    @d.c.wilson #8 – I’ve never thought of it that way, but I can totally see it now: if the Ferengi were to create a religion for humans, it almost certainly would look a lot like Scientology.

  11. thebookofdave:

    A Ferengi-run church could be just about any religion on earth. But only Scientology has copyright protection on any of the Rules of Acquisition.

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