Thursday, December 6, 2012
A church pastor says he was almost scammed out of $300 by a man accused of conning churches in three other states.
The congregation of Andover baptist church is busy preparing their annual Christmas pageant. Pastor James Gillespie says in the spirit of Christmas, he recently welcomed an out of town stranger into the church in with open arms.
"It was a pretty intricate story. He said that he was coming from Colorado that he was a private jet working for an oil company,” Pastor Gillespie said.
Gillespie says the man, named Steven Brown, told him his wife and son were driving down separately in a U-Haul truck, but had run out of gas money.
The pastor bought a $300 gift card but says something stopped him from actually handing it over to Brown.
"I felt really guilty at first because I thought I shouldn't be thinking this about somebody especially if he was needing help,” Gillespie said.
Gillespie tried to clear up his doubts with a quick Google search. The search returned a news story from KFOR in Oklahoma City. In the story, a pastor at a church there accused Steven Brown of trying to scam the church.
"And I was flabbergasted to click on it and here was my friend Steven who was quoting scripture to me, using this ruse to hurt churches,” Gillespie said.
It turns out, Steven Brown has been accused of scamming churches in Louisiana, Georgia, Oklahoma City, and now Wichita. Records show he was arrested on theft by deception charges in Thomasville, Georgia.
Police tell us although Brown didn’t commit a crime because no money was exchanged, they're concerned about his history of fraud and want to talk to him.
We waited at the hotel where Gillespie says he told us brown is staying, hoping to confront him. He never showed. Hotel staff tell us Brown left early Thursday morning and hasn't been back since.
"Well I'd like to see churches protected from him. But ultimately, I'd like to see him come to the point where he says this is wrong and get right with God because obviously he's got some issues with him right now,” Gillespie said.
As for the $300 Steven Brown almost got from Andover Baptist Church, Pastor Gillespie says they plan to give it to a family this Christmas; one they believe is actually in need.