Bakersfield church Valley Bible Fellowship issues warning about scam on Facebook page

Story is case of misrepresentation

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - A prominent local church is warning the community about a potential door-to-door scam going around using the church and cancer to solicit donations.

But it's not just that church that's being named.

Valley Bible Fellowship posted this message on its Facebook page:

"It has come to our attention that there are individuals out scamming in Bakersfield (possibly door-to-door) trying to raise funds for a VBF youth pastor who has stage 4 cancer. This is a scam! Our youth pastors are healthy and active. Please pass along so that we can protect our community."

One person commented on the post saying his wife was approached at Walmart and when she said she had no cash, the solicitor asked for a credit card number.

VBF told 23ABC News they have received numerous concerned calls from parishioners over the last few days.

"We want to make sure everybody knows this is not true, it's a scam do not give these people any of your money," said Nicole Dickey, the Pastor's assistant. "All of your youth pastors are healthy and very active. Sometimes we get confused with Valley Baptist here in town so we even called them to make sure they didn't have any youth pastors that were sick or ill and their youth pastors are perfectly healthy also."

But is it truly a scam?

23ABC's Christine Dinh tracked down and confronted the alleged scam artist and it turns out there is truth to the story. Only, it's been misleading.

"I got a knock at the door, he went to the door and said 'Hello, I'm so and so. I'm doing a fundraiser for our pastor from Valley Baptist church who has stage 4 melanoma cancer'," said a resident.

And that's the same story Clay Hunt told 23ABC when our crew caught up to him a block away.

"This is one of my family members, Earl Hull. He's got stage four Melanoma cancer," said the solicitor.

Hunt said Hull was involved with several churches.

"Church incorporated. He was under the pastor like a youth pastor," said Hunt.

He also listed off Valley Baptist and Valley Bible Fellowship.

23ABC: "But over at Valley Bible they said they don't have a pastor that has stage four cancer."

Hunt: "He was over there for a while. Yes he was."

But when 23ABC told him Valley Bible said all its pastors are healthy and that people were saying it was a scam. Hunt said, "Okay, then it's a scam. If you guys want to see him for yourselves then go ahead."

23ABC then made its way to Earl Hull who does have stage four melanoma. His medical paperwork proves it.

"I've been unable to work. I've had to drop out of school. I was going to CSUB," said Hull.

 

His family has been fundraising to pay his bills. So Clay was right about the cancer, but as for everything else, not so much.

"We've never been youth pastors at any particular church, but we did perform at Valley Baptist Church," said Hull.

Hull said he and his brother are Christian musicians who have performed at various churches.

"The thing with Clay is he has really good intentions," said Hull. "He just, sometimes the words that come out of his mouth don't match up with what's really going on."

Hull said Clay has given him all the money raised.

"We're not trying to misrepresent ourselves, we're not trying to pretend to be anything we're not," said Hull. "We're just really struggling right now and I just want to apologize, if anything has come off wrong."

So it's a case of misrepresentation.

If you still want to help Hull, they will be fundraising at Sonic Burger in Oildale this weekend.

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