|[Scene of the crime, the Advanced Org of Los Angeles (AOLA)]|
After we began speaking to Efrem, and after he also spoke to law enforcement, Scientology suddenly wanted to pay him back at least part of what he said they owed him. And we could certainly understand why. Using various means of cajoling him — including an ice cream date with three young women which Efrem caught on camera — Scientology convinced him to fork over tens of thousands of dollars for counseling that he would never use. The church seemed to realize that such a blatant rip-off of a senior was extreme even by Scientology standards. We have not spoken to Efrem in some time, but we have an update on him that we’ll save for the coda to this story.
A few weeks ago we got a tip from one of our longtime sources, and learned that nearly the same thing has happened again. But this time, the 82-year-old victim wasn’t new to Scientology.
She had been in it for more than fifty years.
The subject of this story wants very badly to tell her story on the record, but she is concerned about how her family will be affected, and so for now she asked that we not identify her. However, she was very cooperative, sent us documentation, and said she is still hoping to identify herself later on.
Her story is deeply disturbing.
She’s a delightful woman from the Midwest who fell into Scientology in the late 1960s and even joined the Sea Org in 1974, working for a time under Yvonne Jentzsch at the original Celebrity Centre in Los Angeles. But eventually she left the SO and returned home.
She was still passionately devoted to L. Ron Hubbard and the “tech,” and believed that it had the potential to perform miracles — she was convinced that she had lived into her 80s with no health issues because of her involvement in Scientology.
Her one real problem was that she was very hard of hearing. So she was interested when two “missionaires” visited her last March, telling her that she should go to Los Angeles for Scientology auditing that would improve her hearing.
Even with her faith in the tech, she regrets being taken in by the pitch. “I should know better,” she says. But she decided to go.
“They asked me for $3,500 for an intensive in LA to get my hearing back. And $300 for six days in the hotel there, at $50 a day — which turned out being $75 a day.” When she balked at the overall cost, one of the missionaires offered to pay for her flight. (An “intensive” is a block of 12.5 hours of auditing, Scientology’s brand of counseling.)
In Los Angeles, she did the auditing at the Advanced Org, AOLA, and she says she enjoyed it. “I thought I was doing better. I was having wins. I was excited,” she says. (Later, when she returned home, she had herself tested and was disappointed to learn that she had lost another four percent of her hearing.)
On her second day, however, she was asked to meet with some of Scientology’s very persistent fundraisers, known as “registrars.”
“They put me in a room for five hours. ‘You want to go up the Bridge,’ they said. I said I can’t afford it. ‘If we can find you a way, will you do it? We’ll get you a line of credit,’ they said. So, OK, we’ll get a line of credit.”
One of the people pestering her, a man named Morgan, was using a laptop computer the entire time, she says. She found out later that Morgan was applying for credit on her behalf, using all of her private information they had on file. “They said I was the one on the computer. Then they had me sign a paper — ah, I was so stupid I signed whatever they gave me.”
They escorted her from AOLA to a local bank to complete the transaction. “They had all of my information. My Social Security Number, my mother’s maiden name. So the bank said it was a proper transaction.”
At some point, she says, one of the other registrars asked for her smartphone, saying that he wanted to put the Scientology TV app on it. “I thought I was getting a letter of credit. But what it turned out to be was three credit cards. I only later realized that what he actually did with my phone was activate the three cards.”
At the time, she was just glad the “regging” session was over. She assumed that a letter of credit was something she could draw on later, and wasn’t an issue at the time. She went on with her auditing.
As the week came to a close, she was looking forward to going home. But as her return date neared, she realized that they had other ideas. “They didn’t want to lose the stat. There were very few people there. They didn’t want anyone to leave.”
They wanted her to draw on her credit to buy many more intensives of auditing. She was told that what she really needed was another 23 intensives, or 287 hours in total of counseling.
She just wanted to go home. By 1:30 pm on her final day, she had completed a routing form except for one final signature, showing that she had completed what she came to do. “For hours and hours, they worked on me, trying to get me to stay.”
She sat in the Advanced Org, and sat. At 11:30 pm, she decided that she was going to walk out.
“I said I was going home. They all surrounded me, walking me down the front of the building. They wanted me to go to Ethics. But I went to the hotel, and they followed me. A little later, at 12:30, they called me in my room, saying that I had to come by in the morning at 8:30.”
She then learned to her surprise that her flight reservation the next day was still intact. (She assumed they would have changed it to keep her there.) At about 4:30 am, she put on as many sets of clothes as she thought she could get away with, and made her way to the lobby. She knew that she had to leave her luggage behind.
“The only way I could leave was to pretend I was going for a walk. I walked down the block, and I found some men who looked sketchy. I went into a Motel 6 or something and asked the guy behind the counter to call Uber for me.” Within minutes her ride picked her up and went to the airport. “I was shaking like crazy.”
She got home without incident. But then, she finally discovered that it wasn’t a letter of credit she had obtained, but three credit cards — and a balance of $59,500.
“I had no idea until I got home. Two of the cards arrived in the mail, the third one never arrived. I took the two down to our local church,” she says. She complained, but she was told that she had approved the transaction. “I never said yes. I don’t have that kind of money,” she insisted.
Meanwhile, she went to her bank, reporting the transaction to the fraud department.
“The bank decided it wasn’t fraud,” she says. “I went to everyone I could think of. I appealed the decision. They said it would go to the executive office, the highest it could go. In November, they said they would call me the next day. I never heard from them again.”
She also sent letters to local law enforcement, and even to the attorney general of her state. Again, she got nowhere.
But in the meantime, one thing she was sure of: She was no longer a member of the Church of Scientology.
“My kids are happy that I’m out. They’ve been very supportive.” At one point, when she told them she was trying to get her money back from Scientology and would probably be the subject of harassment, she said she planned to leave town so they wouldn’t be targeted as well. But they immediately drove over and told her not to leave.
“I was afraid of them. I’m not as afraid now. But I was still a Scientologist — until I got home and found out what they had done. It gradually dawned on me what they did. I’d been brainwashed. I’m still working on it.”
A couple of weeks after our initial conversation, we checked back with her and she told us that she was very pleased: She had just spoken to another law enforcement agency that seemed very interested in what she had been through, and asked for copies of her documentation.
We hope something comes of it.
CODA: Now, that update we promised. We heard last night from Graham Berry, whom we first wrote about almost 20 years ago (wow, how time flies). He sent us this happy dispatch…
“I am pleased to inform you that I successfully represented Efrem Logreira in his claim against the church. A confidential settlement agreement permits me to state that Logreira’s dispute with the church has been resolved to the parties’ mutual satisfaction. Consequently, Efrem is doing very much better and his situation is greatly improved.”
Wow, that’s good to hear. And Graham had another update for us that he asked us to relate to our readers…
“I am now preparing another pre-litigation demand letter in connection with a similar situation to the one Efrem described and endured. If it must go to litigation it will be worth substantial damages. It should also be worth an award of punitive damages. However, a plaintiff who wishes to sue a California religious corporation for punitive damages must make an early showing of merit. To that end, I would very much like to hear from anyone who, during the last five years, signed up for Scientology books, courses or auditing with bank loans, overdrafts, credit cards, or other forms of loan or credit; particularly where a staffer has assisted with the opening of new credit cards or obtaining increased credit card or overdraft limits. I can be DM’d on Facebook, emailed on firstname.lastname@example.org, telephoned at (310) 745-3771, texted at (310) 902-6381. I also have an encrypted account at Hushmail.com.”
Full Article & Source:
Another elderly victim gets soaked by Scientology, is talking to law enforcement