I first warned you about this particular scam in June of 2017, but it has recently resurfaced in many places around the country including in Minnesota where it was reported to me by a Scamicide reader. Local church members are receiving what appear to be emails from their pastors asking them to make contributions through gift cards and credit cards. In 2017 the scams primarily asked targeted victims to wire money to accounts and people named in the emails. The emails come from email addresses that appear at first glance to be that of the pastors, but a closer inspection will disclose that it is coming from a different email provider than the pastor uses. In the Minnesota version the email address from which it was sent at first glance appeared to be that of the new pastor, but upon closer examination a letter was missing from her name in the email address.
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 gift cards because once money has been wired, it is gone forever which is why it is a favorite method 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 card payments nor does the IRS which is why when someone posing as a religious institution or the IRS asks for a payment through gift cards 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.
For those of you receiving the Scam of the day through an email, I just want to remind you that if you want to see the ever increasing list of Coronavirus scams go to the first page of the http://www.scamicide.com website and click on the tab at the top of the page that indicates “Coronavirus Scams.” Scamicide was recently cited by the New York Times as one of three top sources for information about Coronavirus related scams.
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