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Episode 6: Religious Prey: Greater Ministries Int’l | It Takes a Thief

Case File

Religious Prey: Greater Ministries Int'l & It takes a Thief
A story of religious fraud -- a $500 million dollar pyramid scheme! Church founder Gerald Payne has a plan for the faithful to gift the church and double their money. "American Greed" profiles one of the most lucrative pyramid schemes in history. And in our second case: A thief leads a double life. By day, he's a property manager. By night, he's a cat burglar who's executed some of the most daring jewel heists in American history!

Case 1: Religious Prey: Greater Ministries Int'l

  • The Message
  • Church founder Gerald Payne calls it "divine inspiration." He was given a plan -- a way for the faithful to reap what they sow.
  • The Con
  • The scheme is simple. The faithful are promised -- gift the church and your money will be doubled in seventeen months.
  • The Investors
  • The faithful believe and they invest. The cash is flowing -- millions of dollars pour into Greater Ministries International every month.
  • The IRS
  • The IRS is suspicious. Banking records are pulled and agents discover a scam -- one of the most lucrative pyramid schemes in history!

Case 2: It Takes a Thief

  • The Cat Burglar
  • A daring thief. He loved the thrill -- the adrenaline rush. He "prospected" for the right kind of mark -- the next big score.
  • Hollywood Celebrities
  • Mason selected his targets from the pages of society magazines. His victims read like a Hollywood Who's Who -- Phyllis Diller, Armand Hammer and Truman Capote.
  • The Jewels
  • Diamond necklaces, ruby earrings, watches and more. Mason stole more than $10 million in gold and diamonds!
  • The Crime
  • The story of how Bill Mason with little more than a rope, grappling hook and a will of steel became one of the world's most successful jewel thieves!

Web Extras

  • Greater Ministries International Tuesday, 31 Jul 2012 | 1:05 PM ET

    Church founder Gerald Payne calls it "divine inspiration." The faithful are promised: gift the church and your money will be doubled in seventeen months. Click to learn what happened.

  • Greater Ministries International Thursday, 12 Jul 2012 | 2:11 PM ET

    Learn the story of how Bill Mason with little more than a rope, grappling hook and a will of steel became one of the world's most successful jewel thieves!

  • Mason/Security     Thursday, 19 Jul 2007 | 1:00 AM ET

    Bill Mason describes how easily he got past security guards.

  • Mason/Impersonator     Thursday, 19 Jul 2007 | 1:01 AM ET

    Hear how Bill Mason passed himself off as a photojournalist at swank society parties in order to meet his next target.

  • Krinsky     Thursday, 19 Jul 2007 | 1:02 AM ET

    Should you buy the newest and smartest security system? Retired FBI Agent Arthur Krinsky has advice.

  • Phyllis Diller/Bill's Robbery     Thursday, 19 Jul 2007 | 1:03 AM ET

    Comedienne Phyllis Diller, one of Bill Masonâ??s victims, talks about her trust in people.

  • Phyllis Diller/Bill's Robbery, Pt. 2     Thursday, 19 Jul 2007 | 1:04 AM ET

    Phyllis Diller describes reporting the worth of her stolen jewels to the insurance company.

American Greed Showtimes

Murder in Memphis
Saturday, April 26th 1a, 3a ET/PT
Check the U.S. TV schedule for additional showtimes.
#AmericanGreed

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