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Made Up Jonestown Story to Aid Group, Man Says

A man who called a news conference Monday in Los Angeles on the 13th anniversary of the Jonestown massacre told reporters that he had falsely claimed to be a survivor of the Guyana tragedy in order to raise “hundreds of thousands of dollars” for the Cult Awareness Network in Chicago.

Gary Scarff said that network personnel encouraged him to tell untrue stories about surviving the blood bath that claimed 914 lives in order to finance their cult deprogramming work.

Cynthia Kisser, executive director of the network, denied Scarff’s claims, saying in a telephone interview that when she and her associates began to doubt his increasingly “wild” stories about being at Jonestown, he complained bitterly and left the organization.

Kisser said that Scarff is currently being supported by the Church of Scientology, a group that has been the target of ongoing investigations by the Cult Awareness Network. Scarff said he is not affiliated with Scientology.

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