Texas parishioners targeted in fake pastor text scam

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- Parishioners in Texas are being targeted by text messages that claim to come from their pastors or priests.

The office of state Attorney General Ken Paxton warns congregants could be getting texts from church leaders asking them to buy gift cards for a false charitable cause. The church leaders, in reality, are fraudsters, Paxton's office says.

As part of the text exchange, the pretend priests ask victims to send information to access the cards, insisting they can't pick up the funds themselves. They promise to reimburse the victims, Paxton's office says.

"All Texans should be aware of unsolicited calls and texts from scammers impersonating leaders in their Church. This is a dirty trick criminals are using to make a quick buck at the expense of people of faith," Paxton said. "My office stands ready to assist all hard-working Texans who are harmed by these schemes. The consumer protection section of our website contains several resources on how to recognize, prevent and report scams like this. Being informed and remaining vigilant is the best way to prevent fraud and loss."

Paxton believes the criminals use information found on church websites and online versions of bulletins to hatch their plan. Paxton's office says there are reports of the scam statewide.

Paxton urges people to report suspect fraud to the his Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-621-0508 or through its website.
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