Accusations of fraud against Ephren Taylor - the youngest African American CEO of a public company - continue to mount.
The 29-year-old from Mississippi has even been compared to the notorious Bernie Madoff, as hundreds of his clients joined a class action suit filed in Raleigh, North Carolina, against the businessman this fall.
The suit accuses Taylor and others of operating a series of Ponzi schemes. Specifically, he stands accused of wire fraud, money laundering, racketeering, and a number of other serious violations, according to the news report.
The suit alleges that Taylor visited churches where he gave financial seminars and encouraged the churchgoers to invest in various ventures.
These people now argue that Taylor promised them investment returns to benefit the churches and less fortunate people, and that those who invested with him would see returns personally. Some people apparently invested their entire life savings.
The allegations were publicized this year when a bishop posted a YouTube video as a plea to Taylor. In the video, the bishop asked Taylor to return money to members of his Atlanta mega church who had invested money through City Capital Corp., of which Taylor was CEO.
Taylor was tapped for the CEO position at the early age of 23. The successful young man had been involved with business from an early age.
According to the Associated Press, he began at age 12, selling video games he designed. By the time he was 18, he and a friend were involved in creating a job search engine that may have been worth more than $3 million. He has written books about finances and appeared on national television news as a financial advisor. He even spoke during a youth summit at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
Source: The Huffington Post, "Ephren Taylor, Youngest African American CEO, Faces Multiple Lawsuits Over Ponzi Schemes," Dec. 2, 2011