GRAPEVINE, Texas — Federal investigators raided the Texas office of prosperity preacher Benny Hinn after obtaining a warrant on Wednesday.
U.S. Postal Service inspectors and IRS criminal investigators were seen carrying boxes out of the Grapevine facility throughout the day.
“It looked like a big raid: people everywhere, police people everywhere out there, and just rushing in,” John Ebert, who works next door, also told local television station NBC Dallas-Fort Worth.
Special Agent Michael Moseley with IRS Criminal Investigations told WFAA that a tax evasion investigation was underway.
“Today, we are here on official business, we are conducting a search warrant on the premises, basically that’s all I can tell you today,” he said. “We are primarily investigating Title 26, which is tax evasion and general fraud against the government.”
Hinn’s representatives would not comment on the matter. Hinn is currently in France.
The popular televangelist and faith healer has been the subject of investigation on two other occasions. In 2007, a Senate Finance Committee examined the finances of several wealthy televangelists, including Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Paula White, Joyce Meyer, Eddie Long and Hinn.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, specifically cast doubt on their possession of personal planes and opulent homes, but there was no declaration of wrongdoing when the investigation concluded in 2011.
Hinn, known for his “This Is Your Day” broadcast on TBN, as well as his popular healing crusades, was also investigated by the IRS in 2005.
According to the Dallas News, Hinn told reporters in 2009 that his salary exceeded $500,000, but declined to give an exact figure.
Ole Anthony, president of the nonprofit Trinity Foundation, which investigates religious fraud, told WFAA that he has tracked Hinn’s organization for two decades.
“There is more fraud in the name of God—not just in America, but in the world—than any other kind of fraud,” he lamented.
Hinn has offices in both California and Texas.
“The early Church was married to poverty, prisons and persecutions. Today, the Church is married to prosperity, personality and popularity,” the late preacher Leonard Ravenhill once stated.