Churchgoers in Chillicothe have reported receiving text messages from their pastor asking for gift cards to benefit cancer patients.
Chief John Maples confirmed the text messages were part of a widespread scam, and the Police Department has taken reports of this as well. If a pastor texts or emails asking for money or a gift card, saying it’s an emergency, Chief Maples said, “Don’t give, it’s a scam.”
According to Chillicothe police, the text came from a local number, but the victim noticed it was not her pastor’s number. In the text, the scammer asked victims to buy $200 gift cards for him to give to a cancer patient and instructed them to take photos to send to him to be able to use the funds.
The Chillicothe Police Department recommends not texting scammers back and DO NOT PARTICIPATE in the scam.
Below are tips from the FTC on how to handle suspected scams:
- Delete random texts, especially those that ask you to enter a special code or confirm or provide personal information by following a link to a website. These are almost always bogus sites that exist to access your information.
- Never give your personal or financial information out online. Be guarded with your personal information, and treat it as if it were cash. Refrain from entering your Social Security, bank account, or credit card numbers online or by phone to someone who gets in touch with you. And remember, no legitimate company will ever text or email you asking for your personal information.
- Report spam texts to your carrier. Copy the original message and forward it to 7726 (SPAM) free of charge if you are an AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, or Sprint subscriber.
- Don’t text back. Legitimate companies won’t ask you to verify your identity through unsecured channels, like text or email.
- Don’t click on any links within the message. Links can install malware on your device and take you to spoof sites to try to get your information.
- Forward any suspicious emails or texts to the FTC via [email protected]. The FTC recommends that you also cc: the organization impersonated in the email/message — a step that might give the scammer some pause before going ahead with their scheme. If at all possible, include the full email header. Header information is typically hidden, but a quick search for “full email header” and the name of your email service (for example, Yahoo) will give you the steps necessary to find that information.