Scammers are pretending to be our pastor, Fr. David Mulholland, parish staff, and Saint Patrick Catholic School teachers. They ask for help by responding to a text or email because they are in a meeting or can’t talk on the phone. If you respond to the text or email, they ask you for gift card contributions to a worthy cause. These scams are happening across the country.

What Does an Email Scam Look Like?

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

How Does the Scam Work?

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.

What Should I Do If I’ve Been Scammed

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

Tips on Recognizing a Scam

Here are a few tips on how to protect yourself from these types of scams:

  • Never give out or confirm personal information over the phone, via email, or on a website until you’ve checked it out with whoever asks you for it.
  • Do not trust a name, phone number, or email address just because it seems familiar. Con artists use official-sounding titles and may fake caller ID or email address to gain your trust.
  • If the email, phone call, or text message seems fishy, contact us directly at [email protected] or 253-383-2783.
  • Never click on any attachment from a suspicious-sounding email or text.
  • Fliers, phone calls, announcements, etc, accompany official projects and fundraisers. Random e-mails asking for money in ANY form are usually scams.