The Federal Trade Commission has issued a consumer alert warning people not to become victims of scammers impersonating clergy.
According to Colleen Tressler, a consumer education specialist with the Federal Trade Commission, “We’re seeing a new spin on gift card scams. This time, scammers are pretending to be a pastor, rabbi, priest, imam or bishop.”
The request is for congregants to purchase and donate gift cards for a worthy cause, when in fact the scammers are the recipients of the well-intentioned monetary donation. Appeals are made by email, phone and text, and appear to be from your own clergy members.
Using Facebook to create fake profiles, and using the images of local clergy, the appeal appears to be authentic. It’s best to contact your parish or the clergy member requesting donations to confirm the request is legitimate.