The Federal Trade Commission is 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 people are also getting texts and phone calls.
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 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. 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.