ATLANTA, GA – The Office of the Attorney General is warning consumers of an imposter email scam targeting members of synagogues and churches in which scammers pose as religious leaders to try to trick congregants into sending them money.
“Cybercrimes such as these are popular with scammers because the Internet makes it easy for them to hide their true identity,” said Attorney General Chris Carr. “Consumers should be very suspicious of any emails asking them to send money – even if they appear to come from a trusted source.”
There are different variations to these imposter emails. In one version, scammers set up Gmail accounts that display the actual name of the rabbi, priest, pastor or imam. The fraudster then emails the members of the congregation asking for emergency donations to help someone in need and instructs the recipients to purchase iTunes gift cards and mail them to a different address.
If you have lost money or been the target of this type of scam, you can report it your local law enforcement agency or the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at consumer.ga.gov or (404) 651-8600. You should also forward the imposter emails to the Federal Trade Commission’s spam database at firstname.lastname@example.org and the organization being impersonated in the email so that they can warn their congregants.
In an effort to help places of worship, small businesses and non-profit organizations improve their understanding of cyber threats and how best to protect their data and the people they serve, our office has created Cybersecurity in Georgia: A Guide for Small Businesses, Non-Profits and Places of Worship. The guide can be downloaded from our Consumer Protection Division website at consumer.ga.gov.