ON YOUR SIDE: Crooks pose as your pastor in new church text scam

Published: Nov. 4, 2021 at 6:12 PM CDT|Updated: Nov. 4, 2021 at 6:29 PM CDT
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ROGERSVILLE, Mo. (KY3) - If there’s one thing we know about scammers, it’s that they’ll do anything to steal your money and identity.

Now, crooks are posing as your pastor.

“Churches are vulnerable because we are in the business of trying to help people. That’s what we should be doing,” said Ron Melton, Pastor of First Baptist Church Rogersville.

A few members of the First Baptist Church in Rogersville got a text. The subject says ‘donation’ from RS Baptist Church.

“We couldn’t find out where the RS church was at. Unless they were trying to say it was Rogersville. No one knew,” said Melton.

It says it’s from Pastor Roland.

“There’s no pastor Roland here in this church unless they were trying to use my legal name,” said Melton.

The text goes on to say, if you’re having money problems, the church can give your family $1,000. All you have to do is text back some personal info, such as your name, age, profession, city, state and phone number.

“We do not solicit by text, email or phone. If we are going to ask for donations, we are going to do it from the pulpit,” said Melton.

Many churches nowadays do not give families cash.

“We will contact their landlord or go to the grocery store and set up a voucher, or the gas station and set up voucher. But we do not give individuals money directly,” said Melton.

Melton told his congregation to ignore the text. No one took the bait.

This is what’s called a phishing scam. Crooks cast out a text and hope you’ll respond with personal details. Then they’ll tell you to pay a processing fee to get your so-called donation from the church. You won’t get the $1,000. In the end, the swindler cashes in.

“My hope is that they open their eyes. What they are doing is a sin. They’re going to have to pay for a crime if they get caught doing this. If they would realize Christ died for them the same as he died for us, there’s hope for them,” said Melton.

There are different versions of this scam. They all claim to be from your pastor. Look for misspellings, grammar mistakes, and wrong names.

Crooks will tell you to act now. They’ll say your pastor is in trouble and needs your help. Or, respond now if you’d like a church donation.

Swindlers will tell you to buy gift cards. They’ll say you need to pay that processing fee. Or your needs assistance pastor with gift cards.

Churches have their own rules with how they help families. Understand how your church collects offerings so you won’t be caught off guard.

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