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Peterborough police warn of fake priest scam targeting parishioners

Peterborough police are warning about a scam in which a person claims to be a bishop requesting iTunes gift cards.
Peterborough police are warning about a scam in which a person claims to be a bishop requesting iTunes gift cards. File

Peterborough police are warning the public about a new scam involving fake priests targeting parishioners for electronic gift cards.

Police say last Friday a victim received an email from someone claiming to be a local priest who requested $400 in iTunes gift cards for a friend battling cancer at the hospital.

The email also requests that the person photograph the numbers on the purchased gift card and send the image back.

READ MORE: Peterborough man brandishes knife, damages vehicles: Police

Police say the email scam appears to be targeting Catholic parishioners locally and across Canada. Police say they aren’t aware of anyone locally falling victim to the scam.

“The email ends with ‘many blessings’ and the name of a local priest,” police stated. “The victim did not fall for the scam and contacted the Peterborough Diocese and the Peterborough Police Service.”

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“These fraudsters are relying on the trust and relationship church members have with their local clergy,” said Det. Const. Keith Calderwood, Peterborough Police Service fraud unit.

“Any time you receive an email from someone asking you for money or gift cards you need to stop, pause and think. Do not respond. Take a minute to get in contact with your church to verify the email or call a trusted family member or friend.”

If you receive one of these fraudulent emails, contact the Office of the Bishop/Communications of the Peterborough Diocese at ab@peterboroughdiocese.org or 705-745-5123 and also contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or online https://www.services.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/?ipeReferer=CAFCFRS

If you have fallen victim to this fraud, meaning you have lost money, contact the Peterborough Police Service at 705-876-1122 or report online at https://www.peterboroughpolice.com/report/a-crime/

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