A Canadian pastor is sounding the alarm after scammers posing as him targeted members of his church.
Rev. Tom Kruesel, Vice President of Lutheran Church-Canada, says that in the scam, someone posing as the pastor of a local church texts other members of the church asking them to send electronic gift cards.
Canadian Lutheran reports that Rev. Kruesel’s own church, Bethany Lutheran Church in Campbell River, B.C., was targetted.
Several members of the church's council were sent messages, addressed by name, and asked to send electronic gift cards.
“As it was only Council members who were texted, and none of these members have a home phone, I believe the fraudster got the information from the Charitable Return that every church files with the Government of Canada,” Kruesel says. He points out that this information is easily found online.
“I’m sure they will hit every church in Canada eventually,” he says. “Churches and other charitable organizations should warn their leadership teams and members about this kind of fraud.”
“Don’t assume that just because someone knows your name and your pastor’s name that they are who they say they are,” he continued. “If you receive an unusual request—via text or otherwise—from someone claiming to be your pastor or another church leader, contact your church directly to ask about it.”
If you have been the target or victim of a scam attempt, please contact your local law enforcement. You can also contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.