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Archives Names of priests and bishops used in scam attempts

April 24, 2019

The North Country Catholic

The email said only: “Hello, Let me know if you are not too busy at the moment. I need you to do me a favor real quick. Kindly reply to my email as soon as possible. I will wait to hear from you soon.”

While the “From” line on this email suggested it was sent by a priest of the Diocese of Ogdensburg, the email was really from a “spoofed” email account – an email created to appear as though its from a legitimate sender, usually with the intent to scam recipients.

Catholic News Services reported emails spoofing priests and bishops have been seen in other dioceses across the U.S., as well.

In some instances, individuals who replied to the emails were asked to purchase gift cards and transmit the cards or card numbers to the email address or a phone number.

The Georgia Attorney General reported another version, in which con artists send out emails purporting to be from a church pastor asking for emergency donations to help someone in need. The email, which uses the pastor’s name but a phony email address, instructs the recipient to provide the money by purchasing an iTunes gift card and mailing it to a different address.

Such scams can also be conducted via text message or telephone with similarly “spoofed” phone numbers.
The Federal Trade Commission offers the following tips to avoid being scammed:

Spot imposters. Scammers often pretend to be someone you trust, like a government official, a family member, a charity, or a company you do business with. Don’t send money or give out personal information in response to an unexpected request — whether it comes as a text, a phone call, or an email.

Be cautious about opening attachments or clicking on links in emails. Even your friend or family members’ accounts could be hacked. Files and links can contain malware that can weaken your computer's security.

Do your own typing. If a company or organization you know sends you a link or phone number, don’t click. Use your favorite search engine to look up the website or phone number yourself. Even though a link or phone number in an email may look like the real deal, scammers can hide the true destination.

Make the call if you’re not sure. Do not respond to any emails that request personal or financial information. Phishers use pressure tactics and prey on fear. If you think a company, friend or family member really does need personal information from you, pick up the phone and call them yourself using the number on their website or in your address book, not the one in the email.

Don’t believe your caller ID. Technology makes it easy for scammers to fake caller ID information, so the name and number you see aren’t always real. If someone calls asking for money or personal information, hang up. If you think the caller might be telling the truth, call back to a number you know is genuine.

Consider how you pay. Credit cards have significant fraud protection built in, but some payment methods don’t. Wiring money through services like Western Union or MoneyGram is risky because it’s nearly impossible to get your money back. That’s also true for reloadable cards (like MoneyPak or Reloadit) and gift cards (like iTunes or Google Play). Government offices and honest companies won’t require you to use these payment methods.

Report phishing emails and texts.
• Forward phishing emails to spam@uce.gov – and to the organization impersonated in the email. Your report is most effective when you include the full email header, but most email programs hide this information. To ensure the header is included, search the name of your email service with “full email header” into your favorite search engine.
• File a report with the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov/complaint.
• Visit Identitytheft.gov. Victims of phishing could become victims of identity theft; there are steps you can take to minimize your risk.
• You can also report phishing email to reportphishing@apwg.org. The Anti-Phishing Working Group – which includes ISPs, security vendors, financial institutions and law enforcement agencies – uses these reports to fight phishing.

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