The basics of the scam are that church members get a text message from their pastor asking them to make a contribution by buying and sending gift cards.

The messages have the pastor's names and an email address that looks legitimate, but upon further inspection, the email address is actually from a provider different than the one the church typically uses. In some instances, the sender’s name may look correct but is missing a single letter.

According to the Ulster County District Attorney's Division of Consumer Affairs, always be skeptical when asked to wire money or asked to make a payment through any form of gift card. Once the money has been sent in that form, it's gone forever.

The FTC reccommends the following:

  • Don't text back
  • Don’t click on any links within the message
  • Report the message to your cell phone carrier’s spam text reporting number. If you’re an AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint or Bell customer, you can forward the text to 7726 (SPAM) free of charge

Consumer Affairs can be reached at 340-3260.


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