Leaders should warn congregants about this phony “contribution” scam.
Scammers are now targeting worshipers in a gift card scam, warns the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Posing as a pastor or other church leaders (through an email that looks familiar and legitimate), these scammers ask worshipers for gift-card contributions to a good cause. The FTC explains:
The imposter asks you to buy a popular gift card—frequently, iTunes, Google Play, or Amazon—and 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.
Encourage congregants to closely evaluate emails that appear to come from a church leader by carefully looking for some typical warning signs. “For example, the email address isn’t the one normally used by the church, and the service provider is different, too. The message may begin with a simple ‘Hi,’ but doesn’t include a recipient’s name. There also may be spelling errors, including the pastor’s name,” says the FTC.
Read the FTC’s full warning. Also check out “Fraudulent Email Scheme Costs One Parish $1.75 Million” from May that covers another scam and also offers tips for recognizing bogus and potentially costly emails.