Religious Organizations Targeted in Scams

The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office has been made aware of a recent alert that has been issued regarding fraudulent solicitors targeting religious groups and parishioners to donate to their houses of worship. The usual scenario is that an email or text is sent stating local clergy are collecting donations in cash or gift cards.

As a reminder, caution should be exercised with any solicitation for money. Even if the sender's name is familiar, links or numbers included in any message should not be trusted. It is important to remember the following:

  • Not to reply by clicking links or use phone numbers within the received emails/texts, even if the sender’s name is familiar, because those could connect to fraudsters. It is better to verify by contacting directly.
  • Take a close look at any sender’s email address. If the address is not a religious organization but rather a general-purpose Gmail or AOL domain, that’s a signal the message may not be genuine.
  • Be skeptical of messages that claim manufactured urgencies. An example is clergy asserts having to make hospital visits to comfort the ill so asks the congregation member as a favor to get cash cards and the like.
  • For texts, see if the clergy sender’s area code is not local. If not local, it might be fake.
  • Be skeptical if the clergy promises swift repayment at a later date.
  • Be skeptical if the sender says not to deliver to a house of worship but rather asks to receive by email or text the redemption pin numbers on purchased gift cards.

Lastly, the alert encourages to be suspicious. To ensure your donation is going to the right place, it is always best to physically hand your donation to a member of your house of worship.

To date, The Sheriff's Office has not received any complaints regarding this alert; we are just sharing it, so you are aware. If you have any questions or concerns or feel you may be the victim of fraudulent solicitation, please contact our office right away at: (845) 225-4300