Scientology Officers Stand Trial for Organized Fraud in France

488px-scientology_symbolsvgScientology is back in court this week. Officials are facing organized fraud charges with $7 million in fines and 10 years in prison — and could be ordered to end their operations in France. The Church is viewed as a criminal organization and a dangerous cult for years in various European nations, here and here.

What is interesting about this latest case is the charge that some of the officials were illegally practicing as pharmacists. Scientology reportedly convinced three of the five complaining parties to settle for money settlements. The case began in 1998 by a woman who said that they was first approached on the street to do a free personality test and then over the course of months was induced to spend thousands on books, “purification packs” of vitamins, sauna sessions and an “e-meter” to measure her spiritual progress.

Investigators insist that the machine is useless as are the vitamin –which they are treating as medication (an ironic charge for Scientologists who vehemently oppose psychiatric drugs). I am a little skeptical about the vitamin charge given the common use of religious groups in dispensing such holistic or vitamin based treatments.

Scientology officials were convicted of fraud in Lyon in 1997 and Marseille in 1999. It was found in 2002 to have violated privacy laws. Prosecutors have alleged that Scientology preys on vulnerable individuals to bilk them out of money, often encouraging them to take out bank loans to pay for the escalating costs.

For the full story, click here.

21 thoughts on “Scientology Officers Stand Trial for Organized Fraud in France”

  1. AY,
    Thanks for the post and the link. they add to the information.

    Gyges and Lotta,
    My wife and I lost close friends about 15 years ago when the husband of the couple came over to sell me an Amway Distributorship. While he played a selling tape, I perused their catalog where everything was sold for about 10% above retail. It was easy to see this and listen to the pitch and know for certain we were talking pyramid schemes. The friendship died less because I was insulted by his using his friendship to pitch me, than by the fact that I knew he was being taken for a ride and felt constrained to tell him so, such was his enthusiasm. It became less viable to see this couple, especially at their apartment which was loaded with
    Amway merchandise.

  2. Lotta,

    Nah, you actually get something for your money with Amway.

    I know that’s a cheap shot, but there are some set-ups just too good to pass up.

  3. Do not misunderestimate the power of dogma. Militant milarky makes monstrous madmen.

    Check out a recent U.S. President’s missive to the French President on the holiness of war.

    You have to be very high on power to get away with theatrics of the absurd:

    Of course, getting away with it does not mean it has a positive effect on moving objects, not does not getting away with it.

  4. Organized fraud, I’m loving it!!!

    Only in Europe …..

    France better watch out or the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service will criminally charge them for saying bad things about Scientology. In the UK, anyone can be arrested if they ‘abuse’ or ‘threaten’ the Church of Scientology under the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006.

  5. Gyges
    1, May 26, 2009 at 4:44 pm
    Mike and AY,

    I’ve got two in-laws who would never admit it but are mirror images of each other personality wise. Both have a bad habit of trying to make converts at family gatherings, one for his religion, the other for selling Amway (although it has a different name in the US now).

    Amway’s not a religion? 🙂 Though at least with Amway at one point you did have a shot of ‘earning’ a pink Cadillac if you could sucker enough folks into joining the pyramid scheme.

    One of the funniest satires ever done of Scientology was done during the 2nd season to the TV show “Millennium”. It was one of the 2 shows done for comic relief in what was a very dark series. It lampooned Scientology and itself; if you followed the series the ‘in jokes’ are hilarious. The title was “Jose Chung’s Doomsday Defense” (Episode 9 of season 2) and if your library has a copy of the disc (s) from the show it’s worth a watch.

  6. Mike S.,

    I believe that the Church has lost its non-profit status for nearly 26 years and is up for debate again I believe that in 1993 they gained it back.

    See the related text:

    On 1 October 1993, the Church of Scientology obtained tax exemption from the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This ended 26 years of what the Church itself has described as a “war” against the IRS, in which it used extraordinary and in many cases illegal tactics – bugging of government offices, theft of mountains of classified files, private detectives pursuing senior government officials, thousands of lawsuits, full-page attack adverts in US daily newspapers, and so on.

    So perhaps it is not such a great surprise that the settlement itself came about in some very unusual circumstances, raising questions about the actions of both the Church of Scientology and the IRS. Neither party has been willing to provide answers, with the IRS refusing to disclose the terms of the exemption agreement in defiance of a court order and US taxation law. But with the leak in December 1997 of the secret agreement, the relationship between Scientology and the IRS is under greater scrutiny now than ever before.


  7. Mike and AY,

    I’ve got two in-laws who would never admit it but are mirror images of each other personality wise. Both have a bad habit of trying to make converts at family gatherings, one for his religion, the other for selling Amway (although it has a different name in the US now).

    There’s a percentage of the population that’s prone to that sort of behavior, and religions aren’t the only organizations that have figured that out.

  8. Buddha,
    “Battlefield Earth” was crap and the movie was one of the worst of all time. I did like the 10 book series he wrote, forget the name and not important enough to look up, which surprised me in its’ drollness. I actually heard him a few times on all night radio in NYC when he was pushing his con.
    He was on with great SF writers Lester Del Rey and Fred Pohl, who took him apart, when they weren’t outright laughing at him.

    Mike A.,
    Thank you, but I was merely delineating the con, your comments though summarized the theological and you cracked me up with your closing:

    “Salvation for the wealthy. That it works is evident. God’s new elect are not preordained. They are prequalified.”

    Queen of S,
    Liked your comment, love your stuff. Please hang out more often, you have interesting things to say and you say them well.

    You have to be just as crazy as me for being a Jets fan. Hope Sanchez is good, but how many times have we hoped that before?

    Amway is an apt metaphor, since it’s Scientology without any religion and the need to pay taxes on what for most are unseen profits.

  9. I was accosted by some Scientologists on the street when I was about 15 in Australia. Coerced with heavy-handed tactics into their building to take some laborious test I panicked enough to escape when they were out of the room. They actually pursued me down the hall trying to call me back. I’m embarrassed to even recall the event but as a kid I had little idea about my rights and about being emotionally manipulated etc. Creepy bastards who need to be jailed.

  10. Mike S.,

    I only have one thing to add to what you and Mike A have said and that is to challenge “L. Ron Hubbard, former prolific pulp fiction writer came up with an idea in the 50’s . . . [h]is glory came with the fact that he was a competent and entertaining writer. . .”

    Have you read “Battlefield Earth”? He took 3 pages to describe a mountainside that he could have done in a paragraph. I have surveyed a number of his non-doctrinal texts and found them neither entertaining nor competent. Other than that, spot on. He was a huckster and a half. And he knew it. That’s why he died alone and crazy on his yacht full of money – fear had eaten his mind.

  11. As usual, Mike S. pretty much had it right. My theory is that Mr. Hubbard saw an opportunity in combining religion with capitalism, but without all of the aggravation that comes with doctrinal matters. He recognized that historical Calvinist views of salvation were too narrowly focused; there are only limited numbers of the elect, after all. He also recognized that the old Catholic practice of selling indulgences, although a good money maker, had a marketing downside because people tend to frown on openly selling salvation. In a distinctly twentieth century innovation, he decided that salvation could in fact be sold, as long as it was structured as a multi-level self-help instructional course. Salvation for the wealthy. That it works is evident. God’s new elect are not preordained. They are prequalified.

  12. Well well, just convict them of Tax Evasion. That will show em, if they went after them for selling stuff, might want to drop AmWay.

  13. Burning bushes, Jewish zombies, jihad, golden plates, spaceships and Thetans … religion is a collective psychosis. Like George Carlin said, saying there’s an invisible man in the sky who cares about you isn’t a particularly credible statement.

  14. I’m with you, Mike. When a “religion” takes 20 or 30 years to organize itself and pick up enough converts to be regarded as a religion, it’s bound to be attacked as a cult, particularly by those whose religion took hundreds of years to become organized and powerful. Christianity was regarded as a cult for hundreds of years after Jesus shuffled off this mortal coil, and would probably have remained so if Constantine hadn’t needed to consolidate his power, so proclaimed it to be Rome’s state-santioned religion through the Council of Nicaea in 325.

    Organized religion all seems to me to be cultish to a greater or lesser degree, particularly when preached that those who are not members of that specific religion are damned. Money – the love of it, the need for it and the amassing of it, whether personally or for “the church” – seems to be the one thing organized religions share.

  15. Xenu,

    Every cash cow comes to an end sometime. As a god you should know this. Lay low for a while, change your name and start a new cargo cult. Everything will be well and good soon enough. Buck up.

  16. Xenu is not amused. Xenu has bills to pay and from time to time must sell a little wheat germ to fund the up-keep on his galatic war-cruiser.

    Give Xenu a break. Atleast Xenu is not hiding pedarists and telling people triscuits and grape juice is Xenu’s flesh and blood.

    The French smell like feet and will be destroyed. End communication.

  17. L. Ron Hubbard, former prolific pulp fiction writer came up with an idea in the 50’s of the tax benefits entailed in starting a new religion. This was incidentally an idea of wide currency in the 50’s and not original on his part. His glory came with the fact that he was a competent and entertaining writer, who gathered around him a talented group of hucksters and con men. Actually, some might say that this has always been the religious model.

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