In a Halloween week it came to my attention that a false email account with my name attached made it into many church members’ inboxes. The FALSE account asked for a hefty sum of gift cards to be sent to me so that I could in turn pass them on to people in need.
First, let me say that I will NEVER ask for ANYTHING from a church member. God has blessed me enough to provide for personal needs and the church makes it possible for me to address ministry needs, so I am fortunate to be in a position to handle such matters directly.
Secondly, I do appreciate the people who contacted the false account because they thought that for some strange reason I might be in need of such assistance. Fortunately, as they replied to the request, it became apparent that something was fishy (or “phishy” in this case) and they called the church office to check further into the situation. I only hope that no one made an assumption that caused them to be out any money. Nonetheless, it is good to know that there are a host of people who stood ready to assist in such “an emergency.”
What’s most sad about this matter is that these scam artists are getting incredibly sophisticated in their efforts. They know how to combine accounts (my church account and my personal account), and they are getting pretty close to being able to incorporate tone and nuance in their requests. Whether it’s algorithms or artificial intelligence, I’m not sure. The whole “tech” world escapes me. I just know that I don’t appreciate my position being used potentially to trick folk and fleece them in a manner I would never think of doing.
So, I will ask for your help going forward in these ways. Please delete any emails from “me” that ask for anything suspicious. If it’s not having to do with a spiritual matter, I didn’t send it. Which leads me to the second request: please do continue to pray for me and our church as we do try to meet needs and change lives for the cause of Christ.
Stuff like this burns me up. But I can only report it to the appropriate parties and inform everyone else as to the reality of the situation. Again, thank you for all your support and know that I am proud to be your pastor, which are the two most important things any of you could ever give to me.
"A false witness will perish, but the words of an obedient man will live on” (Proverbs 21:28).