Scammers have no scruples. That should come as no surprise to any of us so there is no reason to be surprised to learn that scammers take advantage of the generosity and willingness to help of many religious people. Recently a scam has been reported in Illinois in which local churches received telephone calls from a person identifying himself as “Deputy Robinson.” Deputy Robinson or another person with him tells the person at the church answering the call that he has been a member of the church and that he is out of town, that his car has broken down and it has been towed, but that he needs money to pay the towing fee. They ask the church representative to wire the money to him. In another version of the scam, Deputy Robinson tells the church official that there has been a fatal traffic accident and that a church bulletin from their church was found in the car and that the surviving children are in need of immediate financial assistance. Again Deputy Robinson asks for money to be wired. Wiring funds is a payment option that is much prized by scammers because once the funds have been wired, they are impossible to get back.
Although we would all want to help someone in an emergency situation, you cannot trust someone calling over the phone unless you have confirmed that they are who they represent themselves to be. If, as in the grandparent scam, the person calling represents themselves to be a family member, you can independently call that person to confirm where they really are. If you receive a call purporting to be from someone in law enforcement, you can independently call the law enforcement agency for which they say they work for. If the scammer tells you about an accident involving a fatality, you can call the local police to confirm that this is a scam. Never wire money unless you are absolutely positive that the call is legitimate. This scam may have originated in Illinois, but scams like this spread rapidly around the country and you should be aware of it.