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Augustine: How Scientology makes it so hard to get your money back


[Scientologists learning the “havingness” of money by tossing it in the air]

Frequent contributor Jeffrey Augustine is back to help us with another look at Scientology’s policies and procedures. In this case, what it means to turn over money for future use, and what happens when you ask for it back. Help us figure it out, Jeff!

It’s a scenario all too familiar in the Church of Scientology: A Scientologist is pressured by a Scientology salesperson — called a registrar or a “reg” for short — to fork over a large sum of money to pay for courses he or she may not take for years. This is called “putting money on account.”

“Putting money on account” makes it sound like the money is in a bank account, and can be added to or taken out. In practice, once a Scientologist puts money on account that money is no longer theirs. The money is treated as a donation and instantly becomes the Church’s money. And per the terms of the donation contract the Scientologist signs when they make an “advance payment” – which is, legally speaking, a cash donation to the Church – they may never get their money back unless they complete a process that is deliberately designed to be obstructionist, glacially time-consuming, intimidating, and punitive.

The Church of Scientology moves at the speed of light when it is taking your money. L. Ron Hubbard wanted your money right now. As he wrote in his HCOB of April 9, 1960:

When the prospect comes in, see him or her at once (No waiting). Be courteous, friendly, businesslike. Rise when they enter and leave. Call reception to show them out if they stay too long. Be willing to take their money. Always prefer cash to notes. We are not a credit company. Always see the student or the pc [preclear] before they leave the place after service. You can often sell more training or processing… It is a maxim that unless you have bodies in the shop you get no income. So on any pretext get the bodies in the place and provide ingress to the Registrar when they’re there.

What often happens, especially in recent years, is that a Scientologist with substantial money on account may become disaffected with Scientology and may never take another course. So what happens to that money on account? When a former church member asks for that money back, it’s called a “repayment” by the Church. When it was applying for tax exempt status, the Church told the IRS it was no big deal for a departing Scientologist to get their money back:


If it were really this easy, there would never be any complaints about the Church fighting repayments every step of the way. In practice, a person asking for a repayment has to complete a long and convoluted routing form. This form is called the Claims Verification Board (CVB) form and requires a person to visit various people in their Org and get the formed signed off by each person.

In reality, the CVB form is designed to be a gauntlet a person must endure. At each step of the routing process, the person asking for a repayment is persuaded, cajoled, and pressured to abandon their repayment request and remain in the Church. And while the Church promised the IRS it would give repayments it also told the IRS that it welcomed repayment requests because they served as a “very important cross-check” that helped the organization measure whether Dianetics and Scientology were being properly applied:


One of the purposes of the CVB form is to “handle” a person asking for their money back. Part of Scientology’s tautological logic is that if a Scientologist wants their money back it is only because the Tech has not been properly applied in their case. Thus, if the Church can handle a person’s upset, ARC break, or correct any misapplication of the Tech, then that person will be happy, remain in the Church, and abandon their repayment request in favor of going back on course to, say, run around a pole at Flag for a few weeks.

The Church of Scientology told the IRS how it actually handles refund and repayment requests:


If the Church cannot get a person to abandon their repayment or refund request, then it must meet the request – and giving money back to people infuriates the Church. It is painful and agonizing for Scientology to have to give back even one penny. Therefore, when a person finishes the CVB routing form, and people do, they get two things:

— They get their advance payment back less a 3% administrative fee

— They get a “Writ of Expulsion” from the Church. This is the equivalent of an SP Declare and makes the person subject to Disconnection and the rest Scientology’s animus it directs towards SPs.

While the Church of Scientology likes to talk about human rights, the Church has an inhumane, scorched-earth refund and repayment policy: You become an SP when you get your money back.

The most important thing to recognize in asking for a refund or repayment is this: Do not abandon your request. Keep writing e-mails and letters week in and week out to every possible terminal in the Church. Do not let the Church intimidate, cajole, ignore, or pressure you into abandoning your refund or repayment.

If you abandon your request the Church gets to keep your money forever and you lose.

You have to complete the CVB routing form per the contract you signed. Stand your ground when you are in the Org seeing the various people who are using their ploys, invalidations, love-bombing and other machinations designed to talk you out of your hard-earned money. To use a Scientology phrase, “hold your position in space.” The Church plays games with refund and repayment requests. The Church ignores letters, obfuscates, and stalls. Be persistent and be willing to send repetitive e-mails and letters over and over and over. After all, it is your money.

You will be declared an SP when you get your refund or repayment. However, you will have your money back. Money always helps to start your life anew away from the stranglehold of the Church of Scientology.

[Of course, if you’ve already been declared an SP, good luck even getting a CVB form. As we first documented in 2012, Scientology plays a neat trick on SPs, telling them they have to have a CVB to get a refund, but CVB forms can only be obtained inside an org. And as SPs, they aren’t allowed inside an org! It’s one of Scientology’s most clever Catch-22s. — ed.]

Finally, if the Church of Scientology drags its feet, send a complaint to the IRS using Form 13909. You do not need to let the Church know you are doing this. Include copies of all your e-mails and letters to show how the Church is ignoring or stalling. This was covered at the Underground Bunker previously. Please see If you want the IRS to re-examine Scientology’s tax exempt status, it’s time to get real.

— Jeffrey Augustine


Stacy Murphy case heading for trial

For several days, the Narconon watchdog website and the Reaching For the Tipping Point forum were having server trouble and were down. But now they’re up and at NarcononReviews Mary McConnell has a piece about the unlawful deaths lawsuits and Scientology’s flagship operation in Oklahoma, Narconon Arrowhead.

Mary reports that two of the cases have settled, and a third is on its way to trial. All three are being handled by former federal prosecutor Gary Richardson, who told Mary that the lawsuits regarding the deaths of Gabriel Graves, who died on October 26, 2011, and Hillary Holten, who died on April 11, 2012, have been settled and terms were not disclosed.

Stacy Dawn Murphy, 20, died at the Narconon clinic on July 19, 2012, and Richardson told Mary that the case is nearing trial. We’ll try to get more information about that soon.


Bonus items from our tipsters

Actual caption: “Theta Graduation with Tyller Gummersall!” Actual comment: “Full house!!” (Denver will be cleared in no time.)


From Mark Bunker, here’s a “Lost treasure of XENU TV,” featuring businessman and Scientology critic Bob Minton and German official Ursula Caberta. Wow, we can’t even imagine Scientologists today shattering suppression on a public street like this Scientology Boy Scout troop leader in 2000:


They come in leather!



3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on February 27, 2016 at 07:00

E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield


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