I first warned you about this particular scam in June of 2017, but it has recently resurfaced in many places around the country including Florida recently where the Trinity Lutheran Church in Summerfield, Florida sent a note to it members saying someone had been using the name of their Senior Pastor Dan Kelm in emails and text messages requesting money. Generally in this scam, local church, synagogue or mosque members receive what appear to be emails from their religious leaders 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 local religious leaders, but a closer inspection will disclose that it is coming from a different email provider than what their religious leader.
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 religious institution 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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