Leader of fake ‘church’ accused of $10K scam

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Police said a person who called himself a man of God and his wife have been depositing stolen checks at ATMs all over Memphis.

Dedrick Brookins posted video of himself online inviting people to his church, called the Transformation Center.

Police said he wasn't transforming people but rather bank accounts into balances of zero.

Ariel Guthery said it happened to her last November. She ordered checks that never arrived to her Lakeland house. Instead, police said they ended up in the hands of Brookins, who they saw on video depositing them into a bank account.

"At first I thought, did my wallet get stolen?" she said.

Police said Brookins deposited more than $10,000 of other people's money into accounts called Blessed Assurance Faith Ministries, Faith Action Ministries and Blessed Church.

"It's just really sneaky," Guthery said, "someone to pose as an honest person and then steal everybody's money."

Court papers show Brookins stole checks from at least seven people in the Lakeland and Arlington area.

His wife, Chiquita, was picked up Monday for allegedly helping him with the crimes.

Deputies are still looking for the self-proclaimed apostle, who has been arrested at least four times before for fraud, forgery, burglary and passing bad checks. Each time he went to court, he listed his abandoned house in South Memphis as his address. Brookins wasn't there nor was his "church."