I first warned you about a variation of this particular scam in June of 2017 and again last summer and now it has resurfaced again with a slight new twist.  The 2018 version of this scam involved local church members receiving what appeared to be emails from their pastors asking them to make contributions through iTunes gift cards. In 2017 the scams primarily asked targeted victims to wire money to accounts and people named in the emails.  The emails came from email addresses that appeared at first glance to be that of the  victims’ pastors, but a closer inspection would have disclosed that it came  from  different email providers than those used by the pastors used.  The new variation of the scam, which has been reported recently in Delray Beach Florida, involves the same request for help from a local pastor, however, this time the request came in the form of a text message with a request made to the scam victim to buy multiple gift cards and send pictures of them to the “pastor.”  Unfortunately, in this case, the elderly Delray Beach woman bought and sent $10,500 worth of gift cards in this fashion to the scammers.  Photos of gift cards contain the numbers necessary to access the gift cards.

The key to protecting yourself from this scam is to first be skeptical whenever you get a request to wire money or make a payment through any form of gift card because once money has been wired or sent in the form of a gift card, it is gone forever which is why these are favorite methods of payment for scammers. As for gift cards, once you provide the numbers from the gift cards, the scammers utilize the gift cards to make purchases that they quickly sell in order to get cash. No church solicits gift cards nor does the IRS which is why when someone posing as a religious institution or the IRS asks for a payment through a gift card you can be sure it is a scam.  The second thing that we all should do is to always confirm the legitimacy of any request for a donation of any kind before making a payment.

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