Ephren Taylor II, a self-described “social capitalist” who made his first million in high school, was charged by the SEC today for allegedly operating Ponzi scheme that targeted church congregations.

From the SEC’s release:

The SEC alleges that Ephren W. Taylor II made numerous false statements to lure investors into two investment programs being offered through City Capital Corporation, where he was the CEO. Instead of investor money going to charitable causes and economically disadvantaged businesses as promised, Taylor secretly diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars to publishing and promoting his books, hiring consultants to refine his public image, and funding his wife’s singing career.

According to the SEC’s complaint filed in federal court in Atlanta, Taylor strenuously cultivated an image of a highly successful and socially conscious entrepreneur. He marketed himself as “The Social Capitalist” and touted that he was the youngest black CEO of a public company and the son of a Christian minister who understands the importance of giving back. He authored three books and appeared on national television programs, and promoted his investment opportunities through live presentations, Internet advertisements, and radio ads. For instance, Taylor conducted a multi-city “Building Wealth Tour” during which he spoke to church congregations including Atlanta’s New Birth Church and at various wealth management seminars.

Taylor, the former CEO of City Capital Corporation, became the “youngest ever African American CEO” of a publicly traded company at the age of 23, according to his LinkedIn profile. Ephren Taylor stepped into the pulpit with the ease of preacher’s son, taking the microphone at the New Birth Baptist Church in Atlanta, where the powerful pastor Eddie Long was introducing him to the Sunday morning crowd.

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Everything he says is based on the word of God,” Long pledged to the members of his megachurch. But Taylor wasn’t a visiting minister. He was a financial adviser, one who claimed to have made his first million before he turned 18. And he promised he could do the same for his fellow Christians.

“We’re going to show you how to get wealth and use it for the building of his kingdom,” Ephren promised church goers in Atlanta.

Watch Eddie Long’s public appeal to entrepreneur Ephren Taylor to pay back members who invested in his company $1,000,000

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