Scammers prey on Delco parishioners with gift card scheme

Mark Abrams
March 11, 2019 - 1:12 pm
Man with phone

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Scammers posing as pastors of a Delaware County parish are targeting parishioners in a bogus fundraising scheme.

The calls, texts and emails started recently, and they look and sound sincere.

Ken Gavin, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, says they are brazen fraud attempts.

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"They are asking parishioners through texts, through emails, through phone calls, to provide gift cards as part of an alleged church fundraiser. And it's a total scam," Gavin said.

Parishioners from a handful of Delaware County parishes have been posting warnings on Facebook about the scammers and urging those who receive the pitches to ignore them.

Gavin says no pastor would ever engage in such an activity.

"To receive cold calls, or cold texts out of the blue from someone indicating that they're the pastor would not be something we would do, and it's a definite, definite red flag. With any sort of fundraiser, there's always communication there at the local level. People are aware of what's going on," Gavin said.

"For any parishioner within the Archdiocese, if there was a fundraising initiative at their local parish, it would be something they would be well aware of through annoucements at Mass or postings in the parish bulletin or on parish social media accounts."

Gavin says people, especially senior citizens, need to be on guard.

"We have individuals out there who are preying on the good will of people who want to donate to a good cause, who want to help others, and who are really seeking gain and profit for themselves," gavin said, "which is extremely reprehensible."

He urges anyone who gets such a call, text or email to contact police — even if the phone number looks like it's coming from the church.