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Paging Graham Berry: Another Scientology horror story of credit fraud targeting retirees

[Some random Scientology staffers, here to help you with your credit cards.]

After Thursday’s story about the financial crimes that we’ve been covering here at the Bunker, we received a stunning message from a reader in the Midwest. She told us that she’d been reading the Bunker and thinking of reaching out to us for some time, but that Thursday’s story put it over the top for her.

She and her husband (they turn 65 and 80 this year) had a similar experience to what she’s been reading here, with new credit cards taken out by Scientology staffers in their name and huge charges run up. In this case, however, they managed to get most of their money back without contacting Graham Berry, who has been so effective in these cases. (But still, as you’ll see, they are not whole and they might want to give Graham a call.) At our request, our letter writer sent us scans of dozens of church and bank records confirming this story in great detail. The story is highly consistent with the others we’ve been covering. Scientology is getting increasingly desperate, and preying on older folks in these outrageous ways seems to be getting more frequent. Here’s the tale…

In September 2017, two female Sea Org members came to our Senior Living apartment as arranged with my husband. I was told they wanted to discuss setting up a Scientology Org in our city.

I was informed by my husband that the girls said I would not be needed at the meeting, which they held at the apartment clubhouse. Later that night, around 11pm, he came back to our apartment and informed me that the girls were regging him to do courses and do his Bridge. He told me how much it would cost — around $100,000 — and that it would involve applying for credit.


At this time we just had one credit card with a low balance for emergencies only. I resisted as best I could, but they love-bombed him and I couldn’t get through to him. He went back to the clubhouse where the girls proceeded to apply for credit cards in our names using a tablet computer. At this stage I wasn’t too worried as we weren’t well off financially. I assumed we might get approved for around $5,000 only.

Three days later a different Sea Org member [we’ll call her Cheryl — ed.] arrived in the morning and had me call Chase Bank checking on how much credit I was approved for. The girls had completed four applications in my name for Chase credit. I called regarding three of the cards and was very surprised to find out that I was approved for a total of $84,000 — our annual income at that time was around $36,000, (no savings, no property). I then called regarding the fourth Chase application, and the woman at the bank asked me some security questions. One of the questions was how much annual income I had put on the application form. I told her $36,000. She said she was looking at a figure of $136,000 on the form and for me to explain the difference.

I told her I couldn’t. On informing me a second time that I would have to explain the difference, Cheryl reached across and disconnected the call. (I am deaf and use a captioned phone, so Cheryl was able to read what the lady at the bank was asking me.) I wasn’t approved for that card. I was afraid to tell the woman that it wasn’t me who completed the application.

Cheryl convinced me that the woman at the bank had made a mistake and that the two girls would not have put $136,000 on the application. My husband informed me later that night that one of the girls, using a tablet computer, completed lots of applications, then turned the tablet around for him to hit “submit” for each application. He did not see what figure was entered on any of the forms for annual income. It never entered his head that they would enter false info on the forms after him telling them that our annual income was around $36,000. Anyway, Cheryl had us convinced that it was the bank’s mistake.

Fast forward some days, I was in the website of American Express and I found that a total annual income of $200,000 was entered on that application. I called Cheryl in LA and she denied knowing anything about this claim that our income was $200,000.

At this point my husband was in Los Angeles, and after informing him what I found he asked me to email an ethics officer to inform him of the situation, sending him proof of the inflated income on the Amex application.

Later that night he called me with the ethics officer on the phone. The ethics officer proceeded to tell me that putting “potential income” on an application for credit is not illegal and that it is standard procedure when applying for credit to do Scientology courses and auditing! He even told me that if my husband didn’t find a good paying job in LA that the church would take over the payments.

I informed him I had a hard time believing it is legal and I asked him to explain to me how it could be OK to do that. He said the applicant might in the future be eligible for additional income from, for example, Social Security, or might get an inheritance or a better paying job. He said in my husband’s case there were a couple of interviews set up for jobs. Of course none of the interviews worked out — every place was closed for the day once he was finished at the org for the day.

Because of this inflation of annual income, both of us were approved for a total of $187,700 credit, a total of 10 credit cards and 2 lines of credit. The church charged $140,000 right away. It made my head spin how fast they made it all work for them.

Eventually I was able to get through to my husband about what they did to us, and he was upset and angry at what the Sea Org girls did and he decided to leave LA and come home. Once he managed to get away from LA Org and come home we started the long process of getting the money on account returned to the banks.

We did manage, after many emails, phone calls, and threats, to get them to return $112,000 of the $140,000 without having to seek legal advice, which we couldn’t afford anyway. The rest, $28,000, went for auditing, and that’s what we’re paying off now. My husband was in LA for only a month.

He was 77 when all this took place in Sept 2017 and he had a part time maintenance job at the apartment complex where we lived to keep himself active and to supplement his Social Security. He has since been lucky to find a full time maintenance job that’s helped us get that $28,000 down to $10,000 so far. But as he will be 80 later this year, the full time job is getting too much for him. He’s recently been in hospital for blood clots, so he will likely have to stop working.

We blame ourselves for being naive and trusting. He was a long time Scientologist, but he’s done with them after what they did to us. He still believes in the tech though. I was never really involved with them that much other than taking a couple of courses and a little auditing.

Reading the experiences of other folks makes me realize that we were lucky in getting them to return so much of the money to the banks. We were able to send back unopened boxes of books and meters and eventually got that money returned to the banks. For a long time they denied having received all the boxes back, even though we had Fedex proof that everything was delivered and signed for! Still though, the stress we went through to get that money put back was unbelievable, as you can imagine I’m sure.

Plus,I don’t know how we will pay off the remaining $10,000 if my husband has to stop working, which seems likely.

Anyway that’s our story. We could probably go after them for at least elder abuse and I’m considering doing that, but at the same time I’m afraid of what they might do. Have you come across others who have had their income inflated to get approved for credit? In reading what’s happened to others on your site, I haven’t seen anything about income inflation. Maybe folks don’t know as you have to hunt around a bank’s website to find that info and not all banks have that info on their website. I’m sure we weren’t the only people they did this to. We never contacted any of the banks as we were and still are afraid that we’d be in big trouble for loan application fraud.

Thank you very much for all you do to expose Scientology. We have to hope that one day soon they will be made to pay for what they’ve done and are still doing to honest folk.

We’re grateful that this reader sent us this narrative of their troubles, and then readily supplied financial documents to back it up. She tells us that she thinks she will be contacting Graham Berry very soon.


Bonus items from our tipsters

Meanwhile, in Canada…


And how to talk about Scientology with the wogs…



Scientology’s celebrities, ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and more!

[Erika Christensen, Ethan Suplee, and Juliette Lewis]

We’ve been building landing pages about David Miscavige’s favorite playthings, including celebrities and ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and we’re hoping you’ll join in and help us gather as much information as we can about them. Head on over and help us with links and photos and comments.

Scientology’s celebrities, from A to Z! Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Scientology’s ‘Ideal Orgs,’ from one end of the planet to the other! Help us build up pages about each these worldwide locations!

Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society!

Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in our weekly series. How many have you read?



[ONE year ago] The Scientology pamphlet that has finally convinced us this planet is theirs
[TWO years ago] What’s at stake in Tuesday’s San Antonio court hearing with Scientology’s former enforcer
[THREE years ago] Ken Dandar’s courtroom nightmare is finally over (unless Scientology starts it over from scratch)
[FOUR years ago] Tonight, it’s Boston! And that has us thinking about Beantown’s connections to ‘Miss Lovely’
[FIVE years ago] Scientology claims credit for solving the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri
[SIX years ago] LA Sheriff to Grace Scientology Gala, Days after “Celebrity Center” Employee Arrested for Planning to Kill a Cop
[SEVEN years ago] Marty Rathbun: Scientology’s Attorney “Supervised” Destruction of Records in Lisa McPherson Death
[EIGHT years ago] The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology, No. 17: Jefferson Hawkins


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,548 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,677 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,181 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,701 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 721 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 612 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 3,919 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,787 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,561 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,335 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,681 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,247 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,166 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,334 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,915 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,176 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,215 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,927 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,453 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 979 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,542 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,682 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,002 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,858 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,977 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,332 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,635 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,741 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,143 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,015 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,598 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,093 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,347 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,456 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on August 24, 2019 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post 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 new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2018 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2018), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | 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 | 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 | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele


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