Ex-Scientologist story #359, more financial skullduggery.

Carisa Marion, a long-time Scientologist, was the victim of outright theft and fraud as Sea Org members ruthlessly hounded her to buy more and more useless sets of new “Basics” revamped tapes and books of Hubbard’s tech.  All of this is such an obvious swindle that it is difficult to believe that somebody would ever fall for such crap.

Shifty business: Times inquiry finds secret debits, deception after Scientology ‘Basics’ released

By Joe Childs and Thomas C. Tobin, Times Staff Writers  In Print: Monday, November 14, 2011.

 Church of Scientology staffers were under so much pressure to sell the scriptures known as “The Basics” that some debited thousands of dollars from parishioners’ church accounts without their knowledge or permission, a St. Petersburg Times investigation has found. . .

  Seven members of Scientology’s religious order, the Sea Org, manipulated accounts, the Timesfound. They tapped into church computers to debit accounts for materials parishioners hadn’t ordered — and in some cases had repeatedly refused to buy, according to former church insiders and a review of account statements.       

       In one case, four church staffers in Clearwater diverted $75,000 from the account of a California parishioner. When she found out, she fired off a formal complaint to church brass. “These are criminals stealing money,” wrote Carisa Marion, a Scientologist for more than three decades. . .

Carisa Marion, 50, of Spokane, Wash., once owned a bungalow in Clearwater near the Scientology campus. The church wanted the property to make room for expansion. In October 2005, it paid Marion $1 million for it.      

       As part of the deal, Marion agreed to return $500,000 to the church, putting it in an account for her and her family to use for services.      

       When the Basics went on sale, Marion, then living in Castaic, Calif., still had more than $350,000 in the account. The big balance likely made her a target, she now thinks.      

       She used some of the money to buy three sets of the Basics, one for her, two for family members. Her bookseller was a Sea Org member in Los Angeles who ensured Marion and others received quality counseling sessions at Scientology’s big complex in Hollywood. He had sold her church materials before. She told him: No more Basics.      

       But weeks later, he pitched the sets as a way for her to repay a favor. He called Marion with good news: The counselor she had been waiting three months to see finally was available. He added: We just want you to buy two more Basics packages.       

       “I couldn’t believe it,” she said. Again she told him: No more.      

       About 10:45 that night, three church staffers showed up at her house unexpectedly. They knocked and knocked, but she didn’t answer. She knew they wanted her to buy the Basics, she said.      

       Days later a Sea Org captain asked her to buy a set so the church could give it to the mayor of Santa Clarita, Calif. She told him no.      

       She intended to say no to a Clearwater staffer who called, pleading with her to buy four sets to boost the morale of the sales crew there. Marion gave in to this caller, agreeing to transfer $7,100 from her account for spiritual services to a separate account designated for book purchases.      

       After five months of pitches, she’d had enough. On Dec. 4, 2007, she complained to church officials. “I’m tired of being hounded for more book packages,” she wrote in a formal complaint called a “Knowledge Report.”      

 It didn’t stop the sales pressure. Two months later, while she was waiting to start an important auditing session at the Hollywood church, a staffer took her to the chaplain’s office. More comfortable here, he said.      

       Two more staffers came in. The three Sea Org members asked Marion to buy 16 sets of Basics, she said. Their pitch: The church would deliver the sets to her house and other parishioners would take them and sell them. The sellers would repay her.      

       Marion didn’t want to do it. She wanted to do her auditing. She said the staffers kept telling her: We need your help.      

       She held out for five hours.      

       “It felt like it was never going to end. I finally gave up,” she said.      

       Marion told them they could debit $30,000 from her account. The church delivered 16 Basics sets on a wooden pallet. They sat in her living room for months. No one showed up to sell them.      

Clearwater Sea Org staffer Stephanie Bills tapped into Marion’s account a few days later, Marion’s account statement shows. She pulled out $3,625 — without permission, Marion said — to pay for individual titles in the Basics series. Those books were sent to Marion’s brother in New York City.       

       It was February 2008, seven months into the Basics campaign.       

       Marion found out when her brother called saying: What are these? He already had those titles.      

       Marion contacted Christine Revell, head of the treasury division of the Clearwater church, demanding that the books be picked up and the debits restored. Revell promised to do that, but the sales frenzy continued.      

       In mid July, Clearwater ethics officer Jarrod Kelly phoned Marion to propose a deal. Several of her 16 packages were incomplete. Kelly said he would have UPS pick up eight flawed sets and deliver four new sets, plus an additional series of Hubbard lectures that go with the Basics scriptures. He also would put $5,000 back into her account.       

       Marion said okay, but she insisted the debit not go through until her sets were picked up.      

       That didn’t happen. Kelly debited four sets and UPS delivered them to Marion. Now she had 20. The four new sets sat on a pallet in her driveway, sprayed by her sprinklers.      

For more of this story go here:  http://www.tampabay.com/news/scientology/article1201176.ece

Published in: on November 17, 2011 at 12:29 am  Leave a Comment  

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