chronicles of scam scam

There are new developments since my last post concerning the possible scam taking place in Canton Ohio involving the Xzuberant Faith Ministry Productions team. There is a team of people now investigating the issues that surround the practices of this group that has seemingly popped up out of nowhere within the last month or so.

Important changes may mean that there is another possible scam on the horizon:
We have been monitoring the website for changes and today there were some important changes that occured.

The Registration fee has gone from $150.00 to $200.00
And Registration date has moved from December 10 to Jan. 27.

PAY REGISTRATION FEE OF $200.00 ONE TIME FEE BY JAN. 27, 2006 – Because we do not have tryouts and because this is a Christian Based League, we will not refuse to accept any young man that desires to play for the XFBA. To quickly seperate the serious players from those who are not as serious, each player is required to pay a ONE TIME Registration Fee of $200. REGISTRATION FEE WILL BE REFUNDED BACK TO PLAYER ON FIRST PAY CHECK!

Finally it must be said that “not refusing any young man” is completely misleading – during the January 7th Banquet (minus typical banquet things) the young men were required to sign the contract without reviewing first on their own or with a lawyer – if they did not sign it then they were refused to ever have the chance to play again. Not only is this misleading, but how is this high-pressure contract signing Christ-like at all? To be Christ like is to look out for the best interest of others.

Note that below – though the “one time fee” is due (again) by Jan. 27th both the orientation meeting and the “media launch party” took place on Saturday January 7th. This means no Contract signing party or orientation yet for new players. My guess is there will soon be another media launch party somewhere else.

ATTEND ORIENTATION MEETING – We will be hosting our national Orientation Meeting for ALL Players, Coaches, and Administrators on Saturday January 7, 2006 at 10:00 AM.

SIGN CONTRACT DURING NATIONAL MEDIA LAUNCH PARTY HELD ON JAN. 7, 2006 – Contract will be be given to players on December 15, 2005. Each player is asked to have it professionally reviewed by his lawyer. We will sign each players contact during the National Media Launch Party as apart of the ceremony.

As in bold above “contract will be given to players” is a lie. The team of which I am aware never received the contract, not even after signing it.

One last point of change that occured today on their website is the fact that they state “THERE ARE CURRENTLY 50 PROFESSIONAL TEAMS IN THE XFBA.” This is an odd fact for a number of reasons.

1) 3 weeks days ago there were 30 teams currently in the XFBA.
2) 3 weeks ago when I began researching this league for fear that something funny was up I noticed that there was no record of any of those 30 teams in existence anywhere – in other words no press has to date ever covered any of these professional teams in existence. This is strange since this is a “semi-professional” league paying their players upwards of $60,000 a year to play basketball.
3) Finally reports from the Banquet on Jan. 7th conclude that there were 39 teams that signed that night for the first time ever. That would make 69 teams in existence, if there were ever thirty to begin with. But then if not where did these other 11 teams come from?

After reviewing what’s been pointed out above I think we should scrutinize their mission statement:

“The Xzuberant Faith Basketball Association is a Christian based organization that is governed by Christian principles and character.”

Speculations: What I am most concerned about at this point is that due to the overwhelming success of securing 39 teams of people willing to pay $150 registration fee (and bring people to a banquet and pay $25 to get in) that these leaders are on the move to add more teams and earn more money.

_______________
Other information — XFMP says on its various websites that it is in “covenant with” Creflo Dollar’s ministry. What I can tell so far from the stuff I have read on his site is that he is the typical health and wealth televangelist type minister. There is a lot of hype about him his page as would be expected but its hard to really know much about him. He is supposedly a best-selling author but his books are mainly focused on money and healing (which helps to bring in the money).

What being in covenant with CD means is:

We realize that many people do not understand the meaning of covenant. We are a ministry that finanically supports Pastor Dollar and the World Changers Ministries International family. We submit to the teachings of Pastor Dollar and apply the princpals that he instructs through the Word of God. We are NOT a WCC planted church and we are NOT in direct contact with Pastor Dollar. It is our belief, prayer and desire that if we support his ministry, follow his teachings and sow financially into his ministry we will operate with the excellence, integrity and success that God has given him. Pastor Dollar and Pastor Taffi are both making a mark that can not be erased.

We’ve wondered whether they plan on paying the salaries of their players by their initial sowing into Dollar’s ministry?

Unfortunately our pastor friends here, though they think it is us who don’t understand covenant, have a misunderstanding of the Scripture idea of covenant.

Covenant in the Old Testament was initially made between Cain and God – God protected Cain from those who would harm him (Cain did nothing for God). Then there is Noah who God covenants with to save his family, Noah is asked to build a boat and put his family on it. God does the rest. But even here Noah has the boat built and he is in it before the rain comes – he did not wait by faith for the rains to see if God would come through, no he got on the boat. And of course there is Abraham who God makes a covenant with in the form of circumcision in this covenant with God Abraham is have faith that God will provide a seed for an heir. But in fact Abraham and Sarah not only lie multiple times to protect Abe but he also goes off and sleeps with his slave in order to bring about the fulfillment of the covenant. God on the other hand, despite humanity’s great faults follows through with his promise to bless all nations through Abe’s seed, this happened long after Abraham and Sarah in the person of Jesus. Finally covenant with Jesus in not a “tit for tat” type relationship. We don’t give him something so he gives in return, rather Scripture says clearly that Christ loved us and gave his life up for us long before we said or did anything. God’s love and grace abound in this way – no amount of investing in someone else’s ministry gets God to respond. Only faith and obedience alone do that.

It should be said that the three guys who are in charge of the basketball league have also just started a church last sunday!

The Xzuberant Faith Empowerment Center
Michael W. Heard, Jr. Sr. Pastor
Gregory E. Railey, Jr. Executive Pastor
Jevon S. Blake Associate Minister

Since the beginning of the week number of us have tried to contact via email the ministries of XFMP but this has proved unhelpful, let alone those who may be legitimately interested in getting involved in “ministry,” they are supposedly advertising for 20 managers who will make $40,000 each, not a bad year’s pay. I even tried to order a free their free magazine but the email address was phony and so my request was returned to me.

If you would like to try and send them a message or request a free mag. give it a shot.
To recieve a subscription please email us at xfmag@yahoo.com
xfmpstreetball@yahoo.com

Or just give them a call.
330.313.7259

Finally in terms of media – so far this blog is the only press they are getting. Even though they had a huge media launch party – there was no media there. Why would they call it that, if they didn’t have it?

So what I’ve decided to do is contact the media myself and see if we can finally get a little press for them, you know help them out a bit.
There are three papers that maybe of use:
Canton Repository
Alliance Review
Akron Beacon Journal

Maybe/hopefully one of them would like to look into this whole thing a bit more.

Finally take a look at the comment left from someone who was at the banquet.

Please add comments for anything you may find or know.
Update 1
Update 2
Update 3
Update 4
Update 5
Update 6
Update 7

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Wess

...is the William R. Rogers Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC., PhD in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, served as a "released minister" at Camas Friends Church, and father of three. He enjoys sketchnoting, sharing conversation over coffee with a friend, listening to vinyl and writing creative nonfiction.