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Worshipers targeted by gift card scam

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We’re seeing a new spin on gift card scams. This time, scammers are pretending to be a pastor, rabbi, priest, imam, or bishop. They’re asking worshipers for gift card contributions for a worthy cause. Appeals are often made by email, but we’ve heard people are also getting texts and phone calls, too.

The bogus emails often include the name of the local pastor and a legitimate looking email address. But a closer look should raise some red flags. For example, the email address isn’t the one normally used by the church, and the service provider is different, too. The message may begin with a simple “Hi,” but doesn’t include a recipients’ name. There also may be spelling errors, including the pastor’s name.

The imposter asks you to buy a popular gift card — frequently, iTunes, Google Play, or Amazon — and then asks for the gift card number and PIN on the back of the card. Those numbers let the scammer immediately get the money you loaded onto the card. And once that’s done, the scammer and your money are gone, usually without a trace.

If you or someone you know paid a scammer with a gift card, report it as soon as possible. Call the card company and tell them the gift card was used in a scam. Here is contact information for some of the gift card companies that scammers use most often. Then, tell the FTC about it at Your reports may help law enforcement agencies launch investigations that could stop imposters and other fraudsters in their tracks.

Report gift card scams


  • Call 1 (888) 280-4331
  • Learn about Amazon gift card scams here.

Google Play

  • Call 1 (855) 466-4438
  • Report gift card scams online here.
  • Learn about Google Play gift card scams here.


  • Call Apple Support at 1 (800) 275-2273, then say “gift card” to be connected to a live representative.
  • Learn about iTunes gift card scams and how to report them here.


  • If you have a Steam account, you can report gift card scams online here.
  • Learn about Steam gift card scams here.


  • Call 1 (866) 795-7969
  • Report a MoneyPak card scam online here.
Tagged with: fundraising, gift cards, scam
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Money & Credit


Our newly hired church secretary received one of these that seemed to be from our Pastor. She was a bit suspicious, plus she wasn't sure how to do what was asked. Eventually, she and Pastor contacted me as the "IT guy" for our small church. We figured out this guy was sending an email from a South Korean account, and this whole thing was total scam. Too many misspellings, and weird punctuation usage.
She stopped responding, and the guy went away. Yes, this real - be very skeptical if you get one of these.

Although this is a new one for me, what about those who ask that you make them part of your will or donate your stocks and bonds?

How low can they go, anyway.?

If it's some entity posing as "clergy" asking you to "give" to a cause, how are you supposed to know all of the information they provide in an email, phone call or text is real or not? Usually, they're not posing as , say, your "home" parish or assembly...they're asking from an unknown-to-you "institution" because yours will ask you to your face.

hi how can i and whom to i talk about my one problem of stole my money.

Hello, yes I had the same case with iTunes cards a couple of months ago and again and again which people come with the same questions to get the card with different excuses.
It is horrible to work on what types of fraudsters

I was notified saying they were a pastor I know and they wanted me to put in for a grant that she was chair person on group giving.
I did not give my SSAN but did give other info. I contacted the Pastor to explain. She was not aware of any grant. Individual said his name was Agent Williams Charles. Phone text # 208-503-1706

Simple rule. Never make ANY kind of donation with a gift card of any kind. Use a check or credit card. The best way to donate to your local religious community is in the Sunday collection plate. They'll appreciate a nice sized check!

How about them asking for the Google Play to get money for you and just keep on keeping on asking you to send money for everything under the sun and now they want $550. for an attorney fee to get 4 million dollars?????

So, how are the scammers supposedly accessing worshippers’ email addresses? Through the pastor’s email account? This article does not address prevention or how to stop it once it starts; it only addresses reporting once you’ve fallen for it.

My wife received a phone call from an old friend (who is also a pastor) who had her convinced she would get any amount she chose either by check of UPS delivery next day of money. She had to go and buy gift cards to offset their costs made out to them. I was skeptical and check into it and discovered the scam (she was heading out the door ). convinced that the next day UPS would deliver her money in cash! TRUE - If it sounds too good to be true its a scam!! Bob

This happened to some of our congregants and staff members right after we called our new minister. We put a warning in the next bulletin and weekly newsletter. If it looks suspicious, put your cursor over the sender's name and the true name of the sender will appear. It probably won't be the minister's name!

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