We have seen an increase in email and text scams lately circulating around the Diocese of Orlando and other dioceses across the nation. The scam is sent to unsuspecting parishioners via email or text and claims to be from a member of the clergy. The criminals often pretend to be a priest and ask for gift cards (iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, etc.) for someone in need.
YOU SHOULD NOT RESPOND TO THESE TYPES OF FRAUDULENT MESSAGES. OUR CLERGY WOULD NEVER TEXT OR EMAIL A PARISHIONER AND ASK FOR MONEY.
If you have responded to one of these texts or emails, cease correspondence and delete messages. Suspicious emails can be forwarded to email@example.com.
If you have been taken advantage of by a scam you can file a complaint with the FTC online at www.ftc.gov. Complaints will help the FTC find and stop people who are using spam to defraud people. Although reporting scams can be helpful, it is certainly no guarantee they will stop.
You can also file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center. Filing a complaint with IC3 is somewhat involved but can be done here: https://www.ic3.gov/complaint/default.aspx/.
Here are some tips that can help keep you safe from these types of scams:
- Do not open email or email attachments from unknown senders.
- Be aware of emails that appear to come from a known sender but in fact are being sent by an imposter (spoofing) and may contain content not consistent with policy such as wire transfer requests. These are typically targeted attacks (spear phishing) to someone in authority who may have access to banking information.
- Only open websites that you are familiar with. Do not randomly click on links as they may direct you to malicious sites or download infected files.
- Be wary of any links sent from social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram as scams and viruses are very popular on these sites.
- Do not send user account, personal, or sensitive information via email or text, or enter this kind of information into any website that you did not arrive at by entering the address manually or through a known bookmark or Internet shortcut.
- Do not share passwords.
- Use common sense and if you receive a strange request via email or text be sure to question it.