Many of us have been targeted with scam calls pretending to be from the IRS or Social Security, but now scammers are targeting local churches in hopes of exploiting their kindness and generosity.
One Cincinnati church almost lost $1,000.
Donald Kincaid is the groundskeeper at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, a block from Xavier University. He was shocked when he received a call from Duke Energy claiming the church had fallen behind on its electric bill.
"The caller said that the gas and electric would be cut off in about a half an hour because the bill hadn't been paid," he said.
The caller couldn't have been more clear. Unless the church paid the money immediately, he said Duke would shut its power off.
The caller said to avert a shutoff, Kincaid needed to buy nearly $1,000 in Green Dot Visa cards, "and send it to them, giving them the number on the card."
If he hadn't called Duke to double-check the request, he likely would have done it.
Calls Duke just to be sure
Fortunately, the confused and worried Kincaid made one last call before rushing to the store.
"We called the number on the bill itself, and they said, 'No, we didn't call. We know nothing about it,'" he said.
The church almost fell for the "power disconnect scam," which targets homeowners, small businesses and now churches.
Father John Agbaje now wants to warn other church communities of this scam, and he has a message for the scammer.
"Because we are a church that serves the Lord, I can tell them I forgive them," he said. "But at the same time I can also tell them to stop doing it."
He says most churches don't have a dime to spare.
"It's not ethical and fair to scam churches," he said.
Duke Energy reminds us that they will never call you threatening immediate disconnection.
If you are behind on your bill, they will send you notices first and will never demand you pay by gift card.
As for St. Andrew's, Father John says the church is open to all worshipers, even the people making these calls, especially if they wish to change their ways.
As always, don't waste your money.
Don't Waste Your Money" is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. ("Scripps").
Follow John on Twitter (@JohnMatarese)
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