Scammer posing as Joel Osteen on Facebook

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- A woman in Clear Lake wants Houstonians to be aware of a Facebook scam after she said she was targeted by someone claiming to be Lakewood Church Pastor Joel Osteen.

Paula Dupre said she received a message on Facebook Sunday night from a Facebook account called "Pastor - Joel Osteen."

"Asking me if I was a true Christian, did I believe in the Christ Jesus," Dupre said, "And I wrote back, yes."

After that, the real motive behind the message was revealed. The imposter told Dupre that a big Texas donor had given Osteen Ministries $35,000 -- and that money could be hers.

"But before he did that, I had to send what I had to an orphanage in Delaware," Dupre said, "So I thought that was kind of bizarre."

Then she realized the person messaging her was no pastor. She replied to the person on Facebook, saying, "How about you give me the money first and I won't report your (expletive) to authorities? I am going to the news with this because I believe the real Joel Osteen would not conduct business this way!"

The imposter deleted the account immediately. Dupre contacted Eyewitness News because she wanted to warn others about the scam.

"I'm just worried that the elderly, who don't have much money and might not be very savvy on Facebook, will fall victim to it and send money to get the money," Dupre said.

A spokeswoman for Lakewood Church said the church hired an outside company to police Facebook for fake accounts related to Joel and Victoria Osteen. In the last three years, she said the company has successfully removed about 17,000 fake pages.

"Unfortunately, there are some on social media who masquerade as charitable organizations for the purpose of fraudulently seeking donations," the spokeswoman said. "We take this matter seriously and believe it is important for people to know that Lakewood Church never contacts individuals through social media for the purpose of soliciting donations."
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