Live 5 Scambusters: Email scam asks church members to donate gift cards for cancer patients
MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCSC) - A scam artist tried to use a Mount Pleasant pastor’s identity to scam a congregation.
Bishop Steve Wood is the rector at St. Andrew’s Church in Mount Pleasant. He was alerted by a staff member about emails being sent in his name. An email asking for help appeared to come from the pastor, but firstname.lastname@example.org is not Wood’s real email.
“This is probably the best one I’ve seen that came through,” Wood said. “The email address they used is actually very close to my email address and if you’re weren’t paying attention you’d probably look right past it.”
The premise of the email was also somewhat believable. “Wood” was asking church members to help a group of women battling cancer. The email asked for iTunes gift cards so the women could download their favorite songs and videos during treatment.
“We’d certainly be helping people going through cancer,” Wood said. “We have a cancer ministry here at the church. It all sounds plausible unless you’re really attentive to what you’re reading.”
Unlike other scams, the amount of money involved wasn’t outrageous. The scammer asked for six gift cards worth $100 each to support six women during treatment.
Wood says St. Andrew’s Church has a clear protocol when it comes to giving. All donations should be handled by the church’s financial office.
“I would encourage any parishioner in any church, if you get a request for money, always contact the church directly and say ‘Is this really from the church?’” Wood said.
If you receive an email like this, contact your church and also report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.
If you have a scam story to share, email Kyle Jordan at Scams@live5news.com.
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