The Georgia Attorney General is warning Catholics about a new email scam that is targeting Catholic church members in Georgia.
The Scam: If you are a Catholic, or a member of any faith-based community in Georgia, you may want to think twice about sending money in response to an email from your priest or pastor.
According to Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, a con artist has been sending emails claiming to be from the pastor of the church asking for emergency donations to help someone in need. The email uses the pastor’s legitimate name, but comes from a fake email address. The message instructs the recipient to send the money by purchasing an iTunes gift card and mailing it to an address that does not belong to the church.
These types of scams have become common lately and Apple warns that iTunes gift cards can only be used to purchase goods and services on iTunes and the Apple App store. According to Apple, if you’re asked to use gift cards as some form of payment outside of Apple’s ecosystem, you may be the target of a scam.
The Targets: While Carr is aware of the scam’s efforts to target Catholics, he says he hasn’t ruled out the possibility that other congregations may be targeted as well.
“Up to this point, this particular scam has been aimed at Catholic parishioners, but we believe others could be targeted in the same manner,” Carr said.
What to do: If you have been a target of or have lost money in this scam, contact your local law enforcement agency or the state Consumer Protection Unit at consumer.ga.gov or (404) 651-8600.
If you receive one of these emails, Carr advises you to forward it to the state attorney general’s office, the Federal Trade Commission’s spam database at firstname.lastname@example.org and the organization being impersonated in the email so that they can warn their congregants.