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Paula White Scam Causes Single Mother To Stop Attending Church

Posted by Job on June 12, 2007

TAMPA – LaShonda Dupree heard the drum roll, saw the gleaming lights and the television cameras as she stood on stage at Without Walls International Church.

She was a 20-year-old single mother of three with bad credit and an apartment she could afford only with government assistance.

As the music crescendoed, she realized she’d won the top prize in an essay contest: a brand new, $100,000 house in Temple Terrace.

“Congratulations on your new home!” Pastor Paula White told Dupree.

“I don’t know if you know this or not, but it’s not just a house,” Pastor Randy White informed the roaring crowd. “It comes with all the furniture inside, too.”

Dupree was jubilant, nearly in tears, as her children joined her onstage.

“I was like, this is not real,” Dupree recalled of the giveaway Nov. 17, 2002, at Without Walls’ Lakeland campus.

As it turns out, it wasn’t.

Today Dupree, 25, lives with her children in a house she rents in Riverview for $673 a month. She is no closer to homeownership than she was during the church’s Home For The Holidays presentation. The event and the family’s subsequent tour of the house – “Whose room is this?” “Who’s going to get the bunk bed?” Paula White asks Dupree’s daughters – aired repeatedly on the Christian Television Network.

Dupree has said little about her experience until a story Sunday in The Tampa Tribune detailed problems at Without Walls. It is one of the largest independent nondenominational churches, collecting $40 million a year in revenue. Detractors say its pastors borrowed $170,000 from an elderly widow and never kept promises to care for her or pay it back. Since 2000, five businesspeople have sued or filed liens against the church or the pastors, accusing them of not paying bills or reneging on deals.

This week, Dupree said she is another victim.

“It was like, ‘Hey, everybody, look at all the good we’re doing here!’ But they didn’t tell the rest of the story, which is the recipient never got the house,” she said.

Robert Fruster was the man on stage announcing the winners. He felt terrible about what happened, he said.

“We needed to live up to what we said we were going to do,” said Fruster, a former Without Walls pastor.

It Began With A Class

Through a public relations company, Randy White issued a statement that said the giveaway did not turn out the way he had hoped.

“We tried to do a good thing, and it backfired,” the statement said. However, White said the contest clearly stated that the winner got a down payment, not the house.

Dupree’s experience was the heartbreaking end to a church-sponsored economic empowerment class she took to learn to be responsible with money.

She had just started a low-paying customer service job at Chase Treasury and had poor credit. A college dropout, she wanted to give her children a “real home, to call their own,” and go back to school. She attended every financial counseling class sponsored by Fruster’s Road to Recovery ministry. It pledged to help manage “90 percent of your money after giving your 10 percent tithe.”

Without Walls announced an essay contest. The 200 or so students were to write about what they learned in the class and how they would apply it to their lives.

The prizes – particularly the chance to own a home – offered Dupree a new sense of hope. Other prizes included what was billed as a new car – actually a four-year-old Saturn sedan, Fruster said – a year’s worth of paid utilities, $5,000 in new furniture, and a $500 gift certificate for groceries.

Dupree was thrilled to emerge as one of five finalists. But she was concerned by the notice on the contest entry that said the church would provide the down payment on the house – not the house. When church staff asked the finalists to apply for a mortgage, she called Fruster.

She would never qualify, she told him, and she didn’t make enough money to afford payments. She had secured housing assistance and planned to move into an apartment.

She applied as they asked, and the mortgage company rejected her, she said.

She prayed anyway.

“I was always taught that God works in impossible situations,” she wrote in a letter to White on March 18, 2003, after it became clear she would never live in the house.

White had wanted Dupree to win, Fruster said this week.

“I was his [White’s] poster child for single mothers,” Dupree said.

A Miracle – And Some Problems

Early on the day the prizes were to be announced, Fruster notified White that a contest panel had selected the winner of the top prize. It was someone who would qualify for the mortgage.

White said he wanted Dupree to get the house, Fruster recalled, and asked him to talk with the mortgage company.

That afternoon, Fruster said, he told White that Dupree would not qualify for a mortgage. Again, he said, White insisted they make it work.

Church leaders moved forward with the presentation, figuring they would resolve the money issue before move-in day, Fruster said.

On stage, Dupree said she thought she was experiencing a real-life miracle when Fruster deemed her a “brand-new homeowner.” The church leaders knew she couldn’t qualify for a mortgage, she thought. They must have rewarded her hardship and all her hard work to overcome it, and given her the house.

The church filmed a ribbon-cutting at the three-bedroom, two-bath home five days later. Paula White led Dupree and her children, then ages 6, 5 and 3, from room to room.

“What do you guys think? Do you see your new kitchen?” White asked. “It’s beautiful!”

She told Dupree’s children to pick out their bedrooms.

Behind the scenes, church leaders told Dupree that several details had to be resolved before she could move in.

The home in the new River Manor development would not be available until January or February, they told her. Dupree canceled the lease on the apartment, sacrificing her $500 security deposit, and moved in with her parents, Larry and Marilyn Dupree, also members of Without Walls.

About that time, she was stunned when she got calls from mortgage brokers, asking her to apply for a loan.

“Are you serious?” she remembers thinking. “I figured I would be taking care of the upkeep, the taxes and the insurance, but nobody said anything about a mortgage. This was supposed to be a free house.”

The house would not be free to Dupree, but Fruster was trying to help her buy it.

Billed as a $100,000 property, it would cost the winner only $65,000, Fruster said. A mortgage company and builder had worked before the contest to lower the price so the church would not have to provide a down payment, he said.

Dupree didn’t qualify for $65,000, but if the church paid about $10,000, she would be in the home today, Fruster said.

“From my perspective, it was a drop in the bucket, a very small amount, considering how big the church is and how much it takes in,” Fruster said.

Without Walls has said it was collecting about $10 million a year in revenue then.

“I wanted to close this out and do the right thing for LaShonda,” Fruster said.

He and his wife, Brenda, were among several staff members “released” from their jobs last year. The couple now lead Kingdom Worship Center.

She Got The Furniture

As the deal unraveled, Dupree repeatedly contacted Randy White.

“At first he said he’d go to his grave to fix this and make it right for me,” she said. “Then it turned into finding me a rental home in Ybor City that one of the other pastors owned. I kept telling him, ‘No, that wasn’t the deal. I want my house.'”

By March 2003, Dupree gave up and moved to the apartment in Riverview.

“I finally accepted it was nothing but a publicity stunt,” she said.

She said she spoke with an attorney, but he told her she had no case without a written agreement.

In his statement, White likened the situation to people who win prizes on television shows, only to learn the winnings are heavily taxed.

“We videotaped the winner walking through the house, but unfortunately the winner was unable to use the down payment because she failed to qualify for the rest of the mortgage on the home,” the statement said. “In hindsight, our essay contestants should have been prequalified for mortgage loans before judged.”

White said Dupree received two months’ rent for her apartment and all the furniture in the Temple Terrace home. Dupree said she got the furniture, donated by a local store, but no money for rent.

She no longer attends Without Walls or any other church.

Things are looking up for Dupree, who now has four children ages 10, 9, 7 and 3. She’s a senior credit analyst for Coca-Cola Enterprises in Brandon and is taking online classes toward a degree in accounting.

She still dreams of owning her own home.

Rebecca Boyd lives at the home Dupree toured with Pastor Paula. Boyd bought it in 2003 with no idea it was at the center of a church drama.

“It’s not a great house, but it’s OK for a family,” she said. “The whole situation sounds too bad.”

Reporter Michelle Bearden can be reached at (813) 259-7613 or mbearden@tampatrib.com. Reporter Baird Helgeson can be reached at (813) 259-7668 or at bhelgeson@tampatrib.com.

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18 Responses to “Paula White Scam Causes Single Mother To Stop Attending Church”

  1. Grace Cordeaux said

    You are doing the right by speaking out, unfortunately you were manipulated not to speak the truth that night, I was there.
    God Bless you for standing up for what is right.

  2. Grace: What do you mean by “unfortunately you were manipulated not to speak the truth that night, I was there”?

  3. Margaret said

    Sorry to hear about this. I pray God’s blessing be on you to heal you in everyway. Jesus is Lord and He want a relationship with you. Seek Him and let Him lead you to His body of belivers to worship Him in spirit and in truth.

  4. jackie church said

    LaShonda. Please don’t let what happen to you keep you from serving the Lord or seeking and praying for a church of true people of God. You must have a really beautiful home coming ot the devil would of not have fought you so hard.

  5. Sharon said

    Many believers look at Pastors who are meer men or women, as if they are the Lord himself. This is a big mistake. The Lord’s church is not a building or the man or woman in the pulpit, it is in within the heart of the true believer, who has faith and trust in Christ. Many believers do not read their Bibles on a daily basis, nor do they have a real personal relationship with God. Therefore, it makes it hard for them to identify a false prophet. A church is a place to fellowship with other beleiver’s, not to put their Pastor’s on a pedestal, as if they would our Heavenly Father. When you have a personal relationship with God, He will reveal those to you that are lying in His name. I have been able to identify the real prophets of the Lord and those who are false, in advance and have not missed a beat. It is sad because they will not go un-punished for lying in the name of the Lord (Jeremiah 29:20-24). I pray that any believer who has been hurt and deceived by a false prophet, that he/she will seek the Lord in prayer and develop a personal relationship with Him. I guarantee you if you do this, you will reap a tremendous gift. The Lord will not only guide you to the right church where only His truth prevails, but you will be able to hear His voice a lot clearer, to guide you in the right direction in every part of your life. Of course this does not mean you will not still go through the trials and tribulations of life, but what it does mean is that the Lord will give you the strength and power of the Holy spirit to deliver you from them all. All praise be to the Lord and God Bless you.

  6. sweetlady said

    We all need to keep them in prayer!
    love, sweetlady

  7. While prayer is a good thing, keeping the Whites in public humiliation via the media is what helped LaShonda Dupree. After the above news broke, they committed to give her everything.

    All it Took Was 2 News Articles and One Editorial Requesting Government Intervention!

    Sometimes saints exercising Ephesians 5:11 also helps. And it was saints that alerted the media. We still need to pray though. I don’t know if LaShonda Dupree has found a new church to assemble with, but I hope she does. We hope the vipers repent, but it has not happened yet. They continue their fleecing.

  8. Job said

    IC:

    I guess it is fair to say that the prayers of the saints aid the efforts of saints – and the secular media – in exposing what these evil false preachers are doing! So keep praying, but also keep being the watchman on the wall warning the faithful by blowing the trumpets! I have to tell you, 99% of these “just pray” comments that I receive are not expressed from a legitimate desire to ask God to help people or that His Will would be done, but rather an attempt to shut up the Christians that are doing their jobs, trying to deceive or even intimidate them. God is not pleased with their manipulating His Word in this fashion!

  9. I have to tell you, 99% of these “just pray” comments that I receive are not expressed from a legitimate desire to ask God to help people or that His Will would be done, but rather an attempt to shut up the Christians that are doing their jobs, trying to deceive or even intimidate them.

    Hey bro, you know I know 😉 .

    Some who admonish us to “pray” don’t know if we are in sackcloth and ashes in tears praying daily. Many who use the line are very much hoping we would shut up and pray in a closet, so we are not a threat to the evil being propagated in the Lord’s name. Because they are so deluded they either enjoy it, or they feel the false teachers are more good than propagators of heresy, so they’d rather the pimp continue while we tone down. But I have no problem telling them let’s pray and showing them scripture commands we not always stay hold-up in a closet at times evil should be exposed.

    Have you noticed the pimps REALLY play off prayer? They have LOTS of prayer and fasting sessions. They know when done with their bad doctrine prayer with that mentality results in nothing but ungodly prosperity doctrine laced prayers and only ends up in people whirling in their fleshly minds about all their earthly desires. They do a whole lot EXCEPT PROPER TRAINING IN SCRIPTURE, NO RIGHTLY DIVIDING THE WORD OF TRUTH. Some are acting like if they pray hard enough, God is going to drop the truth in their lap, when they’ve got a Bible right there in their lap that they are not reading much. And so their defenders tell us to shut up and pray, because that’s what they’ve been trained to do. It’s much easier than actually having to admit a pimp’s love of money disqualifies them from the pulpit. It’s a lot less hassle than reading 1 Timothy 6 and warning saints to FLEE such evil as Paul warned Timothy.

    So they say “pray”, toss some twisted scriptures and hope everyone falls for it.

    We know we’re praying and getting up to sound the alarm continually.

  10. What type of smear tactic is this? The woman knew it said a down payment and furniture, etc. The church fulfilled the deal. How is it a scam?

    Did they take money from the woman? No, they gave her stuff in a drawing to take a self improvement class. That is a great church. What does yours do?

    You apparently didn’t read the article you posted. It seems the problem is with the woman who has her hand out and not Without Walls International.

    • GONESTEALTH said

      The Whites are scammers and Charlatains. These are the types of people that make Christians run from church. I being one of them. I have a relationship with God and that is fine with me. I stay away from church because of people like this. The White’s will get what they deserve.

  11. I once heard the whites say “God wants you blessed” say what you mean and mean what you say.This is indeed a sad sad life story of abuse in the church.I’ve once supported the whites by ordering Cd’s,books and other items,as of THIS DAY it is good for nothing,but to CAST DOWN and put under the foot of true christians.I lay CHARGE against the WHITES before GOD THIS DAY!I hope Miss. LaShonda gets this,i’m a single home owner and my doors are open to Miss. Dupree and the kids.Also,you may forward my email to Miss.Dupree.Thanks

  12. kenneth said

    Okay,now that the barn doors are open you want too pray. I called the Paula white prayer line 800-992-8892 they can’t prey for me.They are a “network” they talk from a list,NOT prayer…listen to them,he who has ears to hear!While i’m talking to ms.Paula you can pray(John chapter 17:1-26).Paula,lets talk about three of your Cd’s that I once had… WHAT VOICE IS DRIVING YOU(Paula white),THE BLOOD COVERS ALL (no more shame,no more games) and DON’T LOSE THE EVIDENCE.Lets just start with those three and if I have the understanding of those CDs we can move on…excuse me Paula.My brothers/sisters in JESUS did you come to the -vs- nine…I pray not for the world;walk in the SPIRIT of the living GOD and you will NOT fulfil the lust of the flesh.Until I can hear from Paula let us talk…remember not all the disciples heard the word…follow me.

  13. God knows said

    I hate when people do or say something malicious in the name of God & I know he hates it too.
    Be careful what you say about a man or woman of God irregardless to whether you think they did wrong or not. This was clearly just a misunderstanding and that’s ALL it was. Ms. Dupree, I am sorry about the misunderstanding, but I encourage you not to give up on your walk with God, because that is something the devil would love to see happen. Rather raise your hands, give God thanks for your house everyday & it will come to pass.
    (Hebrews 11:1) NOW Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the EVIDENCE of things NOT SEEN.
    God will give you wisdom on how to fix your credit, and discipline to keep it in good standing so that you CAN get a home.
    (Jeremiah 32:17) There is NOTHING too hard for God, (Luke 1:37) and with God NOTHING is impossible. Please get back into a church.
    (Hebrews 10:24,25) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
    Verse 25: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as you see the day approaching.
    ( 1 Corinthians 4:2) Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
    When you have shown that you are faithful in paying your tithes on a regular basis even if you don’t have enough to pay your bills (because he will provide what you don’t have after you obey him & his word) I promise you he WILL bless you.
    (Numbers 23:19) For God is not a man that he should lie, neither the son of man that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

    (Psalm 84:11) For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.

    For everyone else speaking out against Gods servants please read this.

    Psalms 105: Verses 14, 15 (Read the whole Psalm to get a good understanding, he was talking about his people, and he will always protect his people. You bring judgement upon yourself when you seek to harm his people in word or deed)
    Verse 14: He suffered (allowed) no man to do them wrong:yea (yes) he reproved (corrected) kings for their sakes.
    Verse 15: Saying, Touch not mine annointed, and do my prophets no harm.

    It doesn’t matter whether YOU think they are annointed or not, they are doing the work of God & fall in this category.

    II Timothy 2 verses 1-3: This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
    Verse 2: For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
    Verse 3: without natural affection, trucebreakers, FALSE ACCUSERS, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good.

    Mathew 12: Verses 35 -37
    Verse 35: A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.
    Verse 36: But I say unto you (Jesus Speaking) That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
    Verse 37: For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

    Philipians 2:12 b work out your OWN salvation with fear and trembling.

    Pastor Paula keep your eyes on Jesus, keep serving the Lord, keep obeying him & be encouraged. I stand with you in agreement that NO weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that rises against you in judgement you shall condemn for this is the heritage of the saints of the lord and our righteousness is of him. Isaiah 54:17
    In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

    Revelation 12:10

  14. God knows said

    To the owner of this blog: God commanded us to love our neighbor as ourself. (Mathew 19:19)
    He said love works no ill to his neighbor.(Romans 13:10)
    If you are working ill to your neighbor by trying to slander or defame them, you are not loving.
    (1 John 4: 8) He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
    He said let love be without dissimulation. (Romans 12:9)
    Dissimulation is a form of deception in which one conceals the truth.
    (Romans 16:17) Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

    I believe you are a deceiver, and a manipulator of the real truth, and a false teacher, and God will hold you accountable for every division, schism, deceit & false teaching you are trying to spread throughout the body of Christ.

  15. terry said

    it is time big ministries that do not exhibit the integrity of the Christ they represent be leveled and not followed giving way to the men and women of God who have the courage and time spent building their character to live up to the honor of serving Christ as Pastor Teacher Evangelist Apostle Prophet as recorded in the Bible, God’s Holy word! God bless everyone’s honesty, trust and allegiance to Christ… the son of God!

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