Attorney General Chris Carr is warning Georgians of an imposter scam targeting faith-based communities in which fraudsters pose as religious leaders to try to trick congregants into sending them money.
“With advancements in technology, it’s easier than ever for criminals to hide their true identity, which is why we continue to hear about imposter scams,” said Carr. “Consumers should be very suspicious of any emails or texts asking them to send money – even if they appear to come from a trusted source. Our Consumer Protection Division offers a number of resources to help Georgians protect themselves and their hard-earned dollars, and we stand ready to assist anyone who thinks they may have fallen victim to a scam.”
There are different variations to these imposter scams. 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. In another version, scammers pose as real religious leaders and send texts or emails to congregants requesting they send money via gift cards.
It may be difficult to get your money back once it’s in the hands of a scammer, but here are some steps you can take to boost your chances of recovering your funds:
- Immediately Report the Fraud: As soon as you become aware of the fraud, immediately contact the appropriate financial provider, money transfer company, or gift card provider so you have the best chance of recovering your money and minimizing any damage done to your finances or credit record.
- Contact Law Enforcement: File a report with your local law enforcement agency, the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at (404) 651-8600 or consumer.ga.gov, and the Federal Trade Commission at reportfraud.ftc.gov.
- If Scam Transactions are Hurting your Credit: Visit AnnualCreditReport.com to request your free credit reports from the three major credit reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. If you notice any unauthorized collection items, loans or credit cards, contact the three major credit reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion – to dispute them. Freezing your credit is also a great way to stop unauthorized accounts from being opened. To learn more about how this process works, visit https://consumer.georgia.gov/consumer-topics/credit-freeze.
For additional tips, visit the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division website here.
Consumer Protection Guides
To help places of worship, small businesses and non-profit organizations improve their understanding of cyber threats and how best to protect their data, the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division created Cybersecurity in Georgia. This comprehensive guide includes information on training employees about cybersecurity, planning for and responding to a security breach, cyber insurance and more. Download your free copy here.
The Consumer Protection Division also offers The Georgia Consumer Protection Guide for Older Adults, which includes information about scams that target seniors, identity theft and more. This guide is free and available in English, Spanish and Korean. Download your copy here.