• Online scammers targeting local churchgoers in Dover

    By: Jim Morelli


    DOVER, Mass. - Clergy members at a Dover church are warning parishioners of a scam that is targeting people’s compassion. 

    Scammers are emailing parishioners at Saint Dunstans Episcopal Church in Dover pretending to be Father Sean Leonard, the rector of the church. 

    "It was asking for cash, money, pictures of gift cards with the numbers to take to women in the hospital with cancer, I think," said Jeff Baer, a member of Saint Dunstans. 

    "It's pretty bad. It’s lower than low, I’d say."

    The mystery is how the scammer apparently got a hold of contact information for members of the church.

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    "We've sent out e-blasts and put it on social media to make people aware someone is impersonating me," Father Leonard said.

    This is not the first time either, Father Leonard added. About a month ago the same solicitation scam occurred, but this time transmitted via text message.  

    "Buy gift cards, scratch off the back pin numbers, take pictures of it and send it to e-mails and text messages," Father Leonard said, recounting the scam.  

    "I imagine that most churches really have generous good folk that want to help."

    And that makes them fertile ground for fraudsters.

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    The Federal Trade Commission says once you give the scammer the gift card number and pin they can steal the value that was put on that card. 

    Can you get your money back? Possibly, but only if you act fast. 

    Calling the company that issued the card might help, but in many cases, what is scammed from a gift card is lost. 

    Thankfully, there have been no reported losses at Saint Dunstans.

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