Scams in which local pastors are impersonated in order to trick their congregants out of hundreds of dollars has permeated communities across the nation.
Scammers impersonating trusted pastors have fooled a number of victims nationwide. As churches are speaking out about the trend, one state government is warning that the scammers may be using information available on church websites to get a leg up on tricking faithful churchgoers.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a consumer alert on Friday regarding persons who allege to be pastors and priests who text or email members of various churches asking them to buy gift cards that will benefit a charitable cause.
The warning from Paxton comes as several churches in his state and other states have been targetted by the scam.
According to a press release from Paxton’s office, a number of Texans have received “deceptive texts” from people pretending to be pastors of their churches. The scammers request that the recipients of the texts buy gift cards and send them the access codes.
Although the scammers claim gift cards are needed to give to cancer patients, the scammers tell the victims that they can not physically pick up the gift card and that the purchaser will be reimbursed if they send access codes through text or email after purchasing.
The Texas attorney general’s office believes that scammers are “using information found on churches’ website or in churches’ online bulletins to trick members of the church.”
“All Texans should be aware of unsolicited calls and texts from scammers impersonating leaders in their Church,” Paxton said in a statement. “This is a dirty trick criminals are using to make a quick buck at the expense of people of faith.”
In North Carolina, a similar scam has penetrated the inboxes of churchgoers in several congregations. In Greenville, one churchgoer was tricked out $500. In Gaston County, at least one member of Venture Church was scammed out of $300.
According to WITN, the initial email that parishioners received by someone they thought was their pastor asked them for a very important favor.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith