WEST PALM BEACH, Florida (AP) - A California couple has filed a lawsuit claiming the Church of Scientology duped them into giving hundreds of thousands of dollars for causes that were misrepresented.
Luis and Maria Garcia of Irvine, Calif., filed the federal lawsuit Wednesday in Tampa against several church-affiliated organizations. Their attorney says it is the first of numerous lawsuits to be filed by former Scientologists charging fraud.
Among the accusations leveled by the Garcias is that they were repeatedly strong-armed into supporting disaster relief efforts only to find the money never went where it was supposed to. Their attorney says it was an elaborate scheme that ultimately benefitted the church coffers and the pockets of its leader.
A spokeswoman for the Church of Scientology did not immediately return a call seeking comment.