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California attorney general investigates scam targeting black churches

California Attorney General Jerry Brown holds a press conference to announce a Web-based prescription drug database to track all all controlled substances prescribed in California on September 15, 2009 in Los Angeles.
California Attorney General Jerry Brown holds a press conference to announce a Web-based prescription drug database to track all all controlled substances prescribed in California on September 15, 2009 in Los Angeles.
Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

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State Attorney General Jerry Brown Friday said he’s investigating whether 30 African-American churches in Southern California were the target of a computer scam.

At a Los Angeles news conference, Brown said the scam involved computer kiosks. Companies represented them to churches as high-tech devices that could serve as electronic message boards to generate advertising revenue.

Brown said his probe is looking at three leasing companies and four men who initially offered the kiosks to the churches for free. But allegedly, they ended up charging up to $45,000 for what turned out to be little more than desktop computers and printers housed in wooden boxes.

Authorities in Michigan charged two of the men last month in what the attorney general called a nationwide scam.

Neighborhood churches across Southern California were targeted from Compton to Moreno Valley, including Bryant Temple AME and True Way Missionary Baptist in Los Angeles, and New Hope Missionary Baptist in San Bernardino.

The companies that Brown’s looking into include United Leasing Associates of America, Balboa Capital Corporation, and Banc of America Leasing and Capital – not affiliated with the well known bank.