In late July, the Federal Trade Commission published the following notice about a new scam targeting religious organizations and their congregations. Some in your church may already have been scammed! Please share this information with your members and attenders:
The FTC reports a new spin on gift card scams. This time, scammers are pretending to be a pastor, rabbi, priest, imam or bishop. They ask worshipers for gift card contributions for a worthy cause. Appeals often are made by email, but those being scammed also have reported getting texts and phone calls.
The bogus emails often include the name of the local pastor and a legitimate-looking email address. But a closer look should raise some red flags. For example, the email address isn’t normally used by the church, and the service provider is different as well. The message may begin with a simple “Hi,” but doesn’t include a recipients’ name. There also may be spelling errors, including the pastor’s name.
The imposter asks you to buy a popular gift card, frequently, iTunes, Google Play, Steam, MoneyPak or Amazon, then asks for the gift card number and PIN on the back of the card. Those numbers let the scammer immediately get the money you loaded onto the card. And once that’s done, the scammer and your money are gone, usually without a trace.
If you or someone you know paid a scammer with a gift card, report it as soon as possible. Call the company and tell them the gift card was used in a scam. Here is contact information for some of the gift card companies scammers use most often. Be sure to report the scam to the FTC.
Your reports may help law enforcement agencies launch investigations that could stop imposters and other fraudsters in their tracks.
Click here for
more information on how to report a gift card scam involving any of these