After a few quiet weeks it's started again - local church office holders such as churchwardens, treasurers etc. have received fraudulent email messages impersonating members of the clergy, typically in their own parish but sometimes more widely, asking for a variety of things including the purchase of vouchers and gift cards.
There have been some close calls with one church office holder actually having spent quite a lot of their own money, but fortunately discovered before it was too late.
The sender has taken some trouble both with identifying their chosen pseudo-sender and the intended victim (we guess someone is trawling parish church websites). In many cases the sender has used an un-traceable gmail address.
In several cases the first message reads "Do you have a moment I have a request I need you to handle discreetly. I am currently busy in a prayer session, no calls so just reply my email."
A reply then draws the recipient into a dialogue in which they are encouraged to buy vouchers, and ultimately send images of their serial and security numbers to the fraudster.
If you think you have received one of these messages you can report this to the police on their non-emergency 101 number. They will pass it on to Action Fraud, a national agency. It may not help you directly, but by increasing the number of reports we make sure that they continue to take this seriously.
No one at St Wilfrid’s - the clergy, the PCC or its officers - will ever ask anyone to spend their own money in an email – and therefore anything purporting to do this is a fraud. This is a low-tech solution – and it’s roughly what the big banks do when they keep repeating that they will never ask for login details by email, and will never ask you to move money to a different account by email.