Diocese of Venice warning of church scam | #phishing | #scams


Wannabe crooks are trying to take advantage of churchgoers. The Diocese of Venice is warning about a scheme where people are pretending to be priests in hopes of getting your donations.

People are texting or calling churchgoers and even adding the person’s name to the messages. The final touch is a signature from a priest.

So, now this protest wants his parishioners to know that these texts and calls aren’t from him.

The Ten Commandments sit proudly in front of St. Katharine Drexel Catholic Church. but, nowhere in the commandments do you see “thou shall not scam.”

Father Ricky Varner is the Priest at St. Katharine Drexel. “It’s devastating, especially when you prey on older parishioners,” Father Varner said.

It’s fair to say that Moses would not approve of this behavior. But, Father Ricky Varner says people are targeting his flock. “Maybe five or six of my parishioners have communicated to me that they have received a text or an email requesting gift cards or wire transfers,” said Varner.

Father Varner’s job is doubly tough. He wants to lead people toward God but now he has to steer them away from con artists. “This happens probably twice in the year. And when it does, this is where I put like a scam alert in my parish bulletin,” Varner said.

The message in the bulletin is a clear one. WINK News Safety and Security Specialist Rich Kolko said there’s no way a company, person, or especially a church will ever ask for money by gift card or wire transfer.

“People have to be aware that these kinds of attacks are happening do occur, and they’ve got to take the steps to protect themselves. They can’t just count on law enforcement doing it for them,” Kolko said.

Father Varner says there are some telltale signs to know the messages aren’t from him. “Look at the address. And if it kind of looks funny, that doesn’t match up to the… to the church’s emails system, then you don’t respond to it. It’s a scam,” said Varner.

Father Varner told WINK News that he doesn’t believe anyone has fallen for this. But, Kolko said man other people around the country have and do. So, take this story as a learning money to protect your personal information and your money.

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