Dear Congregational Leaders:
Please be advised of a fraudulent scam threat that is impacting congregations and businesses. There are scammers who are finding names of treasurers on congregational websites, discovering their emails, and emailing them a message from the “pastor” requesting a wire transfer of funds to an independent account – ie: a Wells Fargo account. They initiate contact with the treasurer, pretending to be the pastor. If the treasurer engages through correspondence, the request for a fund transfer is made. Known instances have happened to congregations in Wisconsin and local businesses in South Dakota. In some cases, the banks caught the fraudulent activity before the transaction was approved.
Tips for congregations:
1. Check the email. Is the email coming from your pastor or congregational leader? Check the actual email address and verify. In this case, scammers are creating fake gmail addresses making it appear that it came from your pastor.
2. Verify the transaction with your leader. All expenditures should be supported by proper documentation (i.e., receipt and notation of business purpose).
3. Enforce dual control into your internal control procedures.
4. Report any suspicious activity to local law enforcement.
Review resources for congregations by clicking here.
Sawyer Vanden Heuvel
Director of Communications
South Dakota Synod, ELCA