A pastor and his wife are accused of scamming a 77-year-old woman in their church of nearly $20,000 in credit card charges.
Cleve Williams said the pastor failed to make good his promise to pay the debts he incurred in credit card charges under her name. 49-year-old Frederick Smith has since been arrested in connection to the allegations of Williams.
Williams shared that the scam started when she was still a relatively new member of the New Life Holiness Church, being there for only a few months. The elderly woman said Smith invited her to be on the “Mother Board” of the church. Williams admitted that she was flattered by such an invitation, initially regarding it as an “honor.”
Williams was shocked, however, when shortly after, she discovered that Smith stole her identity and opened credit cards in her name. The elderly woman further alleged that Smith incurred nearly $20,000 in credit card debts under her name. She said that when she confronted the pastor about the matter, he calmed her by promising to pay off the debt the following month. He never delivered on such a commitment.
The elderly woman could not hide her dismay with what happened and the fact that a pastor was the perpetrator behind such a scam. She said: “I was almost speechless. I could not think of anything to do. I said what is this? I never in my life had a card or anything from Bank of America. Never. I have never been inside one of the banks.”
A $20,000 statement was issued by Bank of America in April 2015. Williams reacted: “I just could not function. I was hurt. I was more or less angry, and I just didn’t know what else to do.”
Williams was forced to file a police report in May 2015 and named Smith as a suspect. She was supposed to file formal charges against Smith but thought about it when he made the promise to pay the credit card charges. He did not honor his word, however, and the charges remained unpaid, under Williams’ name and accountability.
Smith did not only turn his back on his promise, but he also turned the tables on Williams. The pastor denied the allegations, claiming that the money he spent went to church expenses and that those were approved by Williams.
Smith also claims that he never stole personal information of Williams to open any credit card, that it was Williams who opened the account and gave him the card to spend on church expenses.
Despite his denial, Smith is being charged with identity theft, theft of property between $10,000 and $60,000, and forgery between $10,000 and $60,000.
Police have issued a warrant for the arrest of Smith’s wife on the same charges, but she has not been arrested by the authorities yet.