Update. I sent the following all-church email yesterday after about 5 reports of non-staff getting a similar email (it’s now up to 9). Two of them responded to the original and were then asked to get an ebay gift card (to pass on to a widow, please hurry, I’ll pay you back). Fortunately, none of our people have fallen for it, that I know of.
It has come to our attention that several of our church members have received emails today that claim to have been sent by Pastor Ritch asking for a “favor.” Please know that these emails are a fraudulent scam by someone impersonating Ritch using a false email account. This sender requests that the recipient purchase several high-value gift cards and then send the gift card numbers back to them via email.
We have no evidence that any of our database or church management systems have been hacked or compromised. All of the recipients have been church members whose email addresses are publicly connected to the church (i.e., listed as a person to contact for a specific ministry on the church website). No action is required on your part to secure your information, but it is urgent that you remain alert and very cautious of any email that seems out of the ordinary, even from someone you know. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- If something seems suspicious, reach out by another means.
- Check the sender email address, not just the name. (ours end with “@bethanycentral.org”)
- If it doesn’t look legitimate, forward the email to me (email@example.com), and I can help confirm whether it is a valid request.
- If you’re still unsure, do not respond or take action before you follow up with the ’sender’ (whether that is Pastor Ritch or any other person you know) by using another method of contact, like a phone call, or if you’re in the neighborhood, stop by the church office.
Keep in mind that scammers will say anything to persuade you to give them your personal information, to send some form of money, or to click a malicious link.
Finally, If you receive a fraudulent email and would like to report it, you can use this form to notify Google’s spam department: https://support.google.com/mail/contact/abuse
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or concerns.
Director of Technology
Bethany Baptist Church