Police yesterday made their first arrest over serious allegations of fraud made against some leading members of the SPAC Nation evangelical church – “the Church of Bling” – as was first reported by Inside Croydon last year.
The trap houses – where “trap” stands for “Take Risks And Prosper” – are where young people, some of them vulnerable, perhaps ex-gang members or drug users, are provided with homes by SPAC Nation. But according to Croydon North MP Steve Reed, the trap houses are also where the cult-like church grooms and practises “brain-washing” of the young church-goers.
“The damage SPAC Nation-linked individuals are doing to vulnerable young people will be stopped,” Reed tweeted last night.
As Inside Croydon reported last year, senior members of the church – some called “pastors” – have been accused of widespread fraud, encouraging young people to commit benefit fraud or to hand over their student loans. Reed raised the matter in the House of Commons, and says he has received troubling reports of child sexual abuse committed at the church’s trap houses.
Reed presented the police with a dossier of evidence and testimony from former church members, including “very, very serious child exploitation, potentially child sexual exploitation”.
SPAC Nation was also subject to a BBC Panorama investigation aired last year.
SPAC – which stands for Salvation Proclaimers Anointed Church – was founded by Tobi Adegboyega, a former property dealer with a taste for designer clothes who until late in 2019 was living in a £2.5million rented mansion in the Shirley Hills, while driving a £150,000 Rolls-Royce, with a couple of Range Rovers parked outside. Hence “Church of Bling”.
Adegboyega had been seated prominently at last October’s Conservative Party conference, and Croydon Tories picked a SPAC Nation pastor to stand as their candidate in the recent Fairfield council by-election.
The man arrested was being held overnight at a south London police station for questioning on suspicion of fraud. No charges have been made.
The police said that their warranted raids on the six houses – in Ashburton Road, The Mount in Woodcote, Hayes Street, Bromley, The Glade in Monks Orchard, Limpsfield Avenue, Thornton Heath and in Chaffinch Avenue, Shirley – “No safeguarding issues were identified as a result of these visits”.
Detective Chief Superintendent Mick Gallagher of the Metropolitan Police’s central specialist crime team said, “This activity forms part of an investigation into allegations made against individuals who are currently, or have previously been, linked to SPAC Nation.
“As part of this investigation, officers from the Met’s safeguarding teams have also visited a number of venues over the past few weeks. No safeguarding issues were identified as a result of these visits.
“While we do not provide a running commentary on ongoing investigations, I know there will be concern about the impact this activity may have on those who regularly engage with the services of the church. We are the police, and our primary concern is protecting the safety of the public, which we will do through all means available to us.”
SPAC Nation have repeatedly denied that the church has done anything wrong, or that they were subject to investigations. There are two separate investigations on-going over the church’s charity status, conducted by the Charity Commission, looking into both financial and safeguarding complaints.
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