CHARLOTTE, NC — A Charlotte pastor is accused of disappearing with nearly half a million dollars of other people's money.
Whistleblower 9 went searching for answers from Kerby McLean - the self-proclaimed "prosperity preacher" - after speaking with the alleged victims.
Until recently, McLean has kept a high profile in Charlotte - marching with other faith leaders during the Keith Scott protests and joining a group of ministers at a "kneel in" at Panthers Stadium last October.
McLean also owns a financial services company in Charlotte called KDM Ventures. Whistleblower 9 obtained records showing McLean's company took in $450,000 from three clients last year. They all told us McLean has disappeared with their money.
Dr. Mike Scruggs, Senior Pastor of a growing church in Cincinnati, told us his church gave McLean $100,000.
"Yes, as an initial down payment to put the funding process together," he explained.
Scruggs said his congregation raised the money to help purchase a building and they gave it to McLean's company to fund a loan. Ten months later, the money is gone and they say McLean hasn't lived up to his side of the deal.
"Ultimately, we want our money back," said Scruggs.
But he and other clients say they can't find McLean. So, Whistleblower 9 went looking for answers.
We found an impressive website that features McLean, but the actual church address it lists and what is on financial documents is much different. We tracked him to an old strip mall in north Charlotte but never saw McLean.
And, there's no indication he preaches anywhere regularly right now. We spoke to the building's owner by phone.
"We were working on a contract for him to purchase the building and that never happened," the owner told us.
Next, we dug through McLean's social media accounts and found photos posted just weeks after his company took in nearly half a million dollars from clients. In one, McLean smiles standing next to a Mercedes Benz in front of a mansion. He snapped pictures of his BMW after it was detailed. In older posts, he proudly discussed his quest for expensive cars, a private jet, and a luxury suite at the old Spectrum Center. He even took pictures during a pedicure with the hashtag: "imblessed."
Whistleblower 9 was able to reach McLean for an interview Thursday. He told us he was the victim of a financial scam and promised to return all of the money he was given:
Whistleblower 9: Why did you finally agree to get together and talk about this?
Kerby: Because we finally got an update. I can't give you information that I don't have.
Whistleblower 9: Where is that $450,000?
Kerby: Well as a development company we used a third-party lender.
Whistleblower 9: It's been 10 months. Where's your level of accountability in all of this?
Kerby: Yes - I think it was a poor decision on our end. We trusted the confidence of our colleagues to deliver.
Kerby: We're fixing it. We're doing what we can.
Kerby: We have to take the blame for it and that comes in the world of business.
Whistleblower 9: Doesn't look like you're driving a BMW anymore?
Kerby: Absolutely not.
Whistleblower 9: What are you driving now?
Kerby: Nissan Altima
Whistleblower 9: So the luxury car is gone?
Kerby: Yup. Yup. Yup. It's irrelevant.
Kerby insists he didn't make any money off the deal gone bad.
Kerby: If I did. I wouldn't be driving an Altima!
Whistleblower 9: Do you believe your clients will get their money back?
Kerby: Absolutely. Even if I have to go out here and sell donuts or hot dogs to get their money back. It definitely will happen.
But so far, that hasn't happened, and McLean shut down his website after we started asking questions.
At the end of last year, McLean posted a photo of himself on Instagram. He was at a gun range taking target practice and wrote: "Got some practice in tonight just in case folks get cray cray in 2018."
McLean's alleged victims are not advocating violence, just accountability.
"We want to make sure that nobody else is put in the same position that we were put in," said Scruggs.
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