If you paid for prayers offered by Pastor John Carlson of the online Christian Prayer Center, you can expect to get your money back whether those prayers were answered or not.
State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced this week that his office “has put a stop to the deceptive business practices of a Seattle-based man and his three companies.”
That man and those companies “will pay back as much as $7,750,000 to approximately 165,000 consumers nationwide.”
Ferguson stated in a release that Benjamin Rogovy “used systematic deception in the running of his for-profit company, Christian Prayer Center.”
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The deception, Ferguson said, included the creation of false religion leaders (it turns out that Pastor John Carlson is neither a pastor nor does he actually exist) and posting false testimonials.
Prayers from the nonexistent pastor cost from $9 to $35.
In a separate business, Rovogy used “deceptive and unfair business practices” in running his for-profit Consumer Complaint Agency, promising consumers that it would advocate on their behalf in their complaints against businesses — for a fee of up to $25, the Attorney General stated.
The actions violated both the state Consumer Protection Act and the Charitable Solicitations Act, Ferguson said.
According to an agreement with the state, Christian Prayer Center must return all money to eligible consumers; stop all unfair and deceptive business practices; clearly disclose payment information; pay $500,000 in attorney costs and enforcement fees; and be subject to $1 million in civil penalties that were suspended pending lack of violations to the agreement.
Consumers who purchased prayers from Christian Prayer Service or Oracion Christiana between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2015, are eligible for a full refund. All affected consumers should receive an email from from CPC concerning a refund; to be eligible, consumers must file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office. Complaints may be filed to here or through the office of the Attorney General. Customers of the Consumer Complaint Agency will receive a refund and need not file a claim.
C.R. Roberts: 253-597-8535