A woman is accused of stealing thousands from a church.
“Up among the top liars I`ve ever met,” says fraud victim Paul McFann.
McFann is not mincing words. He is talking about the former secretary and treasurer of his church`s council, Jane Loprest, who stole more than $119,000.
McFann, the president of the church council, says Loprest gained people`s trust then began raiding church accounts.
“She would cut checks to herself. She would increase her pay. She increased her pay, doubled or tripled her pay,” says McFann.
“She covered her tracks really well. There were never any accounts that the church was overdrawn because of the way she was conducting the scheme,” says Laura Carter, a U.S. Postal Inspector.
Postal Inspectors used surveillance photos from the bank used by the church to track deposits and withdrawals.
They found out that Loprest would write checks but never issue them.
The books might ‘look’ correct, but she was actually taking the cash for herself.
“I really believe it was a chess game,” says McFann.
It seems lifting cash from the Lord isn’t immune to Hampton Roads.
Former Norfolk priest Joseph Hai-Ngyuen was found guilty of stealing more than $84,000 from two area churches.
He received a suspended sentence and paid restitution.
In Suffolk, Anne Lynch pleaded guilty to embezzling nearly $40,000 from St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church near Chuckatuck.
She paid the money back and also received a suspended sentence.
In Virginia Beach, Michele Moser is in the middle of serving a four-year prison sentence.
She was found guilty of taking thousands from King’s Grant Baptist Church while she was the treasurer. She’ll have to repay $600 a month for the next 40 years.
As for the case at the Indiana church, the church`s bank notified officials when they found several discrepancies.
When confronted, Loprest confessed.
Postal Inspectors say oversight is key for any organization, whether it`s for-profit or non-profit.
“Conduct an annual audit with a CPA, volunteers are great, but you need that CPA to give you what`s going on with your books,” says Carter.
Janet Loprest pleaded guilty and spent one year in jail. She was also ordered to pay more than $100,000 in restitution to the church.