Benjamin Rogovy, the owner of the Christian Prayer Service website and other businesses, has reportedly agreed to refund up to $7.75 million to about 165,000 customers.
Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced in a press release on March 16 that an agreement had been reached with Rogovy to reimburse people who were victimized by deceptive business practices.
According to Ferguson, Rogovy manufactured fictional religious leaders and fake testimonials on the Christian Prayer Service site to get people to pay between $9 and $35 for prayers, reports The Associated Press.
Rogovy’s business practices reportedly violated the state Consumer Protection Act, which does not allow false claims, and the Charitable Solicitations Act, a regulation that bans charities and churches from making misleading or deceptive statements in charitable requests for money.
"I believe in the power of prayer,” Ferguson stated in a press release. “What I do not believe in and what I will not tolerate is unlawful businesses that prey upon people -- taking advantage of their faith or their need for help -- in order to make a quick buck.”
In addition to the prayer site, Rogovy created the Consumer Complaint Agency, which offered to help people with complaints against companies, but charged them $25 for simply forwarding complaints, Ferguson added.
Rogovy also had another pay-prayer site, Orcion Cristiana, which is also part of the massive refund.
Full refunds for prayers on both of Rogovy's religious sites will be available for people who paid money between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2015, but they need to file a complaint with the Washington State Attorney General's Office before June 12, 2016.
People who paid the Consumer Complaint Agency should automatically receive checks in the mail, according to Ferguson.
AP left a phone message for Rogovy at a business number, but had not heard back.
The Christian Prayer Center site is now just a white page that states: "The Christian Prayer Center is now closed. We thank you for all the prayers, and we cherish the opportunity to have created a place where Christians could meet to support each other."
The site also includes links to other prayer sites that not affiliated with the Christian Prayer Center.