A favorite trick of email scammers is to send out a fake message that seems to come from someone you may know and trust. The email message may say the person is soliciting money or gift cards for a good cause or that the person has had their money and/or documents stolen. In any case, the fake message asks for specific help and is called “spoofing.”

Spoofers intentionally use a variation of a legitimate email address to make the recipient think that it comes from a person they recognize. However, the person whose name you might recognize did not create the email address and cannot access it. It does not mean that the recognizable person was hacked, which is good news. But it also means that the recognizable person cannot control or stop the messages.

Spoofing happens with regularity to staff in many presbyteries. In fact, scammers recently created fake email addresses in the name of some Presbytery of Lake Michigan leaders. The scammer somehow got hold of an email list on which the names of some presbytery members are included and has sent messages asking people to help address a situation.

To help stop the scams, take the following steps.

  1. Never send anything of value in response to any email or text request for money or gift cards
  2. Forward the email to the person mentioned in the message using the email address that appears on the presbytery’s website or included in the presbytery’s directory.
  3. Delete the email requesting money or assistance.