The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has confirmed reports linking New York-based pastor and lawyer, Eric Abakporo, to “despicable” fraud: the theft of the life savings of an elderly African-American woman through deceit and lies.
Eric Abakporo, a Deeper Life pastor and attorney, and a cohort, Latanya Pierce, were arrested for swindling the 78 year-old woman and stiffing a bank with a phony $1.8 million mortgage loan. Abakporo was arrested on Monday in Queens, NY, while Pierce surrendered voluntarily.
“Through lies and deception, these individuals abused the trust of an elderly woman in order to perpetrate a multimillion dollar fraud. Now that their despicable scheme has been exposed, they will face justice,” said New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Abakporo first came across the SaharaReporters radar screen in 2010 in another case involving contracts for renovations at the Nigerian Mission in New York City. The contracts, linked to Joy Ogwu, Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, were inflated, according to a petition signed by whistleblowers calling themselves “The Patriots.” SaharaReporters reported on this a few months after New York Daily News was reporting on the fraud perpetrated against the elderly woman.
The SaharaReporters story prompted the ethically challenged lawyer to turn his fury on the citizen reporting website with a lawsuit raising libel, emotional distress and other charges for which he demanded $30 million. A U.S. District Court dismissed most of Mr. Abakporo’s claims in an April 2011 decision.
The story behind the current FBI charges began in March 2006 when Abakporo cultivated a relationship with the victim who owned a Harlem apartment building. He offered to help her collect rents but actually, he pocketed them.
The two alleged con artists then persuaded the woman to sell her property for $3.1 million, giving her multiple fake and fraudulent checks which they later took back, promising to give her a “private mortgage” in the property. After weaving a web of lies around their actions, the two swindlers brought their act to a local bank, claiming they owned the building “free and clear”. For this lie, they obtained a $1.8 million mortgage which they failed to repay.
Ultimately they obtained all of the elderly woman’s assets and $1.8 million by defrauding the bank.
Charges against the two include multiple bank and wire fraud which together carry a maximum prison term of 100 years behind bars.
Abakporo is currently cooling his heels in detention until payment of a $1 million bond secured by an interest in property and co-signed by three people and secured by two properties.