Debt-busting ‘con’ comes to Britain

AN AMERICAN preacher and faith healer exposed for exploiting the vulnerable and sick has set up a British operation offering a “miracles for cash” service to wipe out the debts of householders.

Peter Popoff, whose US church once raised millions of dollars a year, was bankrupted in the 1980s after he was caught using a hidden earpiece to enable him to call out the ailments and home addresses of those he was treating at faith healing services. His trickery partly inspired Leap of Faith, the 1992 comedy film starring Steve Martin, and a subsequent Broadway show.

Popoff, 69, has since rebuilt his career and expanded operations to the UK. Last May, he hosted a “spiritual event” at a London theatre but now faces claims that he is offering “miracle money manifestation” in exchange for cash.

Popoff’s mailshots offer a miracle that will cancel the debts of impoverished householders, but says money must first be sent to him to help erase the debts.

The Good Thinking Society, a charity that has investigated Popoff’s activities, has submitted a complaint to Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime.

Michael Marshall, project director of the Good Thinking Society, claimed: “Popoff is taking a huge amount of money from his recipients under the false pretences of protecting them from evil, curing disease and sparing them from debt.”

Letters obtained by the charity show how Popoff promises that payment will deliver a “harvest” which will cancel debt. One reads: “I feel so strongly about this sacrifice of £20. But if your best is £12 do that . . . this is what will release this power to erase your debt.”

City of London police said the complaint would be reviewed but no decision had been taken on whether to begin a formal investigation.

Peter Popoff Ministries did not respond to a request for comment.