PSA: New email scam impersonating priests

I just wanted to raise a bit of awareness regarding one of the latest “angles” that scammers are running.

There is a phishing scam where the scammers create a fake email address (it often includes the name of a priest) and then use it to spam members of the parish. They seem to cull email addresses from parish websites and the like.

The initial message will often be something brief and innocuous such as “Can you email me back as soon as you get this?” But if you reply, you will often be asked to send money or gift cards to a different email address.

I know a number of priests who have been impersonated. It appears to be quite widespread.

Since many posters here are involved with their parish in various ways, I figured some of us might be on the receiving end of such emails (I was…several times).

Here are a few stories about it:


You know this happened to me several years ago when I was a member of the
Episcopal church. My priest had family in
England and was visiting there. The e-mail was so sophisticated it included the story that the priest’s wallet was stolen from him while he was in London. I was suspicious and e-mailed him and that is how he became aware that someone had hacked into his contact list.
That happened about 10-12 years ago and I had forgotten about it until I read your

Thanks for the reminder and the warning!

In these cases, the scammers are not even hacking into the priest’s email account. They are creating new email accounts (like, and then emailing people that have their own email addresses on the parish website because they work or volunteer for the parish.

So there’s no real way to stop it from happening. It’s happened to my pastor at least 4 times in the past few months, each time coming from a slightly different email address.

Our pastor has been hit with a phishing scam more than once.

This is why we treat parishioner information with a HIPPA like confidentiality.


Our pastor just informed us that our parish has been hit by this as well. They’ve even lifted a photo of him from our parish website. They’re asking parishioners to buy gift cards and then reveal the pin # on the back of the card and then email them a photo of the pin #. He said it’s mostly affecting Gmail accounts.


Also yahoo

Yes, that’s the general MO. I was also asked to buy iTunes gift cards and email pictures of the back of the card with the pin scratched off. It’s actually sort of laughable, because I cannot imagine my pastor ever asking for such a thing considering he is one of the least tech savvy people I know.

This topic was automatically closed 14 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit