Summary: We are confronted with both facts and fiction in life.

INTRO.- ILL.- Fact or fiction?

· "I just got a hot tip from an inside source that this will go through the roof."

· "The word on the street is that this deal is ready to take off."

· "There is no way you can lose money. Your return is guaranteed!"

· "Everyone is getting in on this."

· "You gotta get in on the ground floor now or you’ll be left out in the cold. Let me send a messenger over tomorrow to pick up your check."

· "This is so sure fire all you have to do is sit back and watch your profits come rolling in."

What do these words sound like to you? Fact or fiction? These are the words of the con artist who is about to clean house on you and your bank account.

ILL.- November 10, 2001 - Con artists posing as cops take couple for $40,000 - Clarion-Ledger Staff Writer, Jackson, Mississippi

An elderly Jackson couple was swindled out of $40,000 Friday by two men who flashed badges and posed as police detectives, an official said.

The 87-year-old man and his 75-year-old wife were approached at 4 p.m. in front of the Albertson’s supermarket on Ridgewood Road, said Robert Graham, a Jackson Police Department spokesman.

"The couple felt they were helping the police find a crooked bank employee," Graham said.

"They were told to go to three different branches of the same bank and withdraw thousands of dollars in cash."

The swindlers convinced the couple the money would be given back to them later in the day at a location on Woodrow Wilson.

After waiting several hours, the man and wife went to the police who would not release the couple’s names.

"It’s a scam that’s been used several times here in the city," Graham said. "The police are not going to walk up to the general public and ask them to participate in police work."

ILL.- Did you ever hear of televangelist Robert Tilton out of Texas? The Miami News Times reported this about Tilton. While skeptics dismissed him as a low-rent Southern cultural phenomenon, Tilton was hee-hawing all the way to the bank. At his peak he purchased 5000 hours of airtime per month and appeared in all 235 U.S. television markets.

His daily Success-N-Life show reached virtually every TV set in North America. Tilton’s mass-market ministry pulled in $80 million per year, and his Dallas church drew as many as 5000 worshipers to Sunday service. He trotted the globe, wore $2000 tailored Italian suits, and drove, depending on his mood, a Mercedes-Benz or a Jaguar. He occupied multimillion-dollar residences near San Diego and Dallas and a waterfront vacation home in Fort Lauderdale. Of course, the facts of his gaudy lifestyle and the astonishing size of his business enterprise remained largely hidden until after his eclipse began.

One issue Tilton did dwell on was worldly wealth. Day after day he pitched a narrow, well-oiled version of the "prosperity gospel." In exchange for $1000 "vows" from followers, Tilton promised to lobby God for miraculous improvements in their health and finances. "If Jesus Christ were alive today and walking around, he wouldn’t want his people driving Volkswagens and living in apartments," he explained.

Then came November 21, 1991. On that evening, ABC’s Prime Time Live aired the findings of a six-month investigation into the ministries of Tilton and two other TV preachers.

The segment on Tilton was by far the most damning. At its heart was the accusation that Tilton never saw the vast majority of prayer requests and personal correspondence sent to him by faithful viewers. On the air Tilton promised to pray over each individual miracle-plea. But ABC said it found thousands of those requests dumped in garbage bins in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Checks, money orders, and in some cases cash, food stamps, and even wedding rings sent by followers had been removed for deposit at a nearby bank.

Tilton and his lawyer claimed the Dumpster documents had been stolen by enemies of the church and then planted in the trash.

Cross-examination of Leigh Valentine (his second wife), September 4, 1996, court testimony:

She said, “Bob’s mail ministry is a lie and a total deception. He does not write those letters. He did not even proofread them during our marriage.

“He makes it sound like [he’s] writing to you right now, this is what God spoke to me for your life, Jesus will appear to you tonight; if you sleep with this little red cord under your pillow, you will prosper.

“He doesn’t even know what’s going out to those people, and he doesn’t care, as long as they send their money in.

“He is stealing from people. Most of those people are on welfare. They’re little Hispanics and blacks. And he even said, ’What I do is I look at a map and we go after the ghettos, we go after those on welfare, we go after those that don’t read, those that are lower socioeconomic backgrounds. That’s who we send our letters to....’”

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