ON YOUR SIDE: Someone using Buffalo, Mo. church’s phone number to scam locals

Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 5:07 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 1, 2021 at 6:54 PM CDT
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BUFFALO, Mo. (KY3) - Someone is using the phone number of the Buffalo United Methodist Church to scam others.

The church’s pastor, Mike Hargraves, said they felt attacked.

“You kind of feel violated,” said Hargraves. “It seemed kind of distant when I’m seeing it on the news, but whenever your number’s used, kind of brings it home.”

A few weeks ago the church started getting calls from people claiming the church’s number called them. The caller said they were the police and the recipient had to pay them to make an arrest warrant go away or they would be arrested.

Pastor Hargraves said they feared for their community.

“It’s scary,” said Hargraves. “Folks don’t realize that this is how that can be done and they think it’s a legitimate thing, and they can pay their money and may pay lots of money.”

Hargraves said he immediately called the police and then was in contact with the attorney general’s office and the Better Business Bureau for Springfield.

Officials from the BBB said they got the report on August 19. The organization does not know how many received the call.

Mark Heady, who has been going to this church his whole life, said he could not believe this happened.

“That’s really dreadful what they’re doing,” said Heady. “They’re trying to use us.”

Hargraves said they felt helpless to those impacted.

“Your number is used that way and you kind of hate it,” said Hargraves. “But what do you do?”

Officials from the Better Business Bureau said this is the first case they have seen in the nation for someone mimicking a church’s phone number from their data going back to 2015. They also say this scammer could be from overseas and picked the church’s number at random to trick people being called in the area.

Hargraves and Heady hope this doesn’t affect anyone else.

“Just be careful about if you get a call saying, anybody saying, a warrant for your arrest, wanting information, don’t give the information,” said Hargraves.

“I think people need to be aware, so they don’t do this,” said Heady. “Don’t fall into that trap. It’s not. It’s not for the good of our church. It’s for somebody else who’s, who’s up to no good.”

Officials from the Better Business Bureau said this scam could be ongoing. They ask you to call them and law enforcement if you believe you are being scammed.

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