Go to the source for religious donation requests to avoid a scam

Reporter: Rich Kolko
Published: Updated:

You want to trust an email that arrives in your inbox when it is sent from a religious leader at your church, temple or mosque. But, it may be a new spin on an old scam.

In March, an example of this type of scam happened in Cape Coral. A man showed WINK News texts, claiming to be from his priest at St. Andrew Catholic Church. In the text message, a request for $500 in Google Play gift cards was made to help a friend with cancer.

A scammer sent the text message. To make sure these requests are legit, a retired FBI special agent said to go to the source.

“If you get an email, text or something from someone looking for a donation, go to the original website and start the donation process from there,” said Bret Hood, a retired FBI Special Agent. “This way, you can assure you are giving the money to the real people instead of the scammer.”

The most significant red flag is that nobody will ask you to make a donation using a gift card. It is not real. Report the request to law enforcement or the FBI’s internet complaint center.

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