Email scam targets clergy, lay leaders
Diocesan House staff has heard from a number of clergy and lay leaders that they are receiving fraudulent emails that ask for money, gift cards, or other favors posing as Bishop Richards, or other clergy leaders. Please know that Bishop Richards has not sent these emails.
Other dioceses and religious organizations have reported similar incidents in the past. The scheme involves scammers mimicking church staff, typically posing as someone in a position of authority asking victims for money transfers or gift cards. Many times, the scammers will often manipulate the email address, name, or even the area code of phone numbers, so that it appears to be coming from someone you know.
Please note that these recent fraudulent emails have come from a Gmail account ([email protected]). You are able to report it as Gmail abuse here.
The best advice is to confirm requests with a conversation.
Even if the email or text seems legitimate, if a request seems even remotely "off," don't act on it until you confirm it with a phone call or face-to-face conversation. In the case of an alleged message from the Bishop-elect, you may want to reach out to a member of the bishop's staff, using the contact info in the staff directory.
Some general suggestions:
- Check sender details carefully. Any suspicious emails or text messages should be investigated before replying. Pay attention to the message content, including attachments and URLs.
- When in doubt, call: If there are questions about any email, do not reply. Instead, pick up the phone and call the main number of your diocesan office or parish.
- Label it spam: If your email service has the ability, report the email as spam.
Here's how you can report these scams:
- Report Phishing Attacks: the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team has an Incident Reporting page to report email phishing, as well as an email to forward them to, at https://www.us-cert.gov/report-phishing.
- Forward all emails to the Anti Phishing Working group at [email protected].
- Report text scams to the Federal Trade Commission's Complaint Assistant which helps the FTC detect patterns of fraud and abuse.