'I'm NOT the Messiah': British economist forced to deny he is religious cult's divine saviour

London, UK - A north London economist has been forced to deny he is a religious cult's holy savior after a bizarre series of emails and personal visits.

Raj Patel came to the attention of Share International members after he appeared on U.S. comedy show The Colbert Report to promote his book about the global financial crisis.

The group's leader Benjamin Creme made an announcement soon after telling members their god had recently appeared on U.S. TV for the first time.

His dark skin, slight stutter, birthplace of London and birth year of 1972 as well as other features match those of the divine being the group calls 'Maitreya'.

Frustratingly for Mr Patel, from Golders Green, it is also written that when identified, Maitreya will deny his divinity - echoing the famous scene in Monty Python's Life Of Brian where Graham Chapman's title character is confronted by followers who believe him to be the messiah.

Two followers even flew from Detroit to San Francisco to meet Mr Patel at a book signing.

'I started getting emails saying "Are you the world teacher?",' he told The Sun.

'Then it wasn't just random internet folk,. but also friends saying "have you seen this?".

'It's absurd to be put in this position when I am just some bloke.'

Of the two men who flew to meet him in California, he added: 'They were really nice straightforward people. They said they thought I was Maitreya. They also said I had appeared in their dreams.

'I said, "I'm really flattered you came all the way here, but it breaks my heart you spent all this money to meet someone who isn't who you think he is".'

Creme, originally from Scotland, started the cult in the 1950s and it has since expanded to Amsterdam - where its headquarters are, London, France, Germany, the U.S. and Japan.

He has refused to say whether he accepts Mr Patel's denial.

He started Share International with the aim of 'making known the fact that Maitreya - the World Teacher for the coming age - and his group, the Masters of Wisdom, are now among us, emerging into the public arena gradually, so as not to infringe human free will'.

Members claim Maitreya has appeared in public - most famously in Nairobi in 1988 - and performed miracles and they say he stands for justice and fairness.