Scammers are using phony but real-looking emails to try to steal thousands of dollars from North Carolina churches. A church in central North Carolina nearly fell victim recently, and other churches in the state have also reported the scam to their bank.
How the scam works
An employee of the church’s finance office receives the email, which appears to be sent by the pastor or another high-level person at the church. The message instructs the employee to send thousands of dollars, via bank-to-bank wire transfer, to handle an “urgent and confidential” situation. The employee is a victim of spoofing, a scamming technique where the crook hijacks someone’s email account and pretends to be that person while sending and receiving a series of messages.
This scam has targeted businesses in the past but the focus on churches is a new twist.
To avoid this scam
· Set a strict office policy for wire transfers.
· Remember that money wired away is usually gone for good.
· Warn employees about this scam.
If you believe you, your church, business or an employee has been approached by a scammer, report it to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or file a complaint at www.ncdoj.gov.