Local law enforcement agencies are cautioning of a new scam making the rounds that has seen fraudsters targeting the parishioners at places of worship.
Putnam County Sheriff Robert Langley, Jr. issued an alert after scammers purporting to be a pastor, priest, or leader of a place of worship, sent text messages to their victims, who have largely been the parishioner of that place of worship.
The scammer, through the text, explains to the victim that they are collecting Steam Cards or iTunes gift cards for patients battling novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
The scammers then direct their victims to purchase the cards, scratch off the numbers on the back of the card, and send screenshots of the codes to the fraudsters through a text message.
In several cases, the scammers specifically request that the victim’s purchase gift cards in $100 denominations, Langley said.
"We believe this specific request is an effort to avoid detection by convenience store cashiers and clerks trained to spot signs of fraud," he said. "We have also seen the scammers address the victim by first name and sign the text message as the pastor/priest/Msgr. of the place of worship."
Langley said that "Putnam County residents should be aware of this trend and variations of this scam because scammers routinely change names, organizations, and the gift card brands they request.
"The Putnam County Sheriff's Office is aware that this scam has been seen in other parts of the state and we encourage those reading this to re-share or re-post this alert to increase awareness."
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