There has been a noticeable increase in the Diocese of reports of fraudulent activities that have taken place over the course of last year in our Diocese wherein clergy and parishioners have fallen prey to malicious schemes. One possible explanation for such occurrences could be our increased reliance on computers and devices for daily ministerial work during the time of the pandemic.
We have to remember that anybody can be susceptible and can become a victim to such schemes. It only takes a particular circumstance on any given day, one’s subjective disposition, and the perceived credibility/authority of these emails, websites, screen pop-ups, social media messages and posts, text messages, or phone calls for anyone to fall into a trap. Several individuals have shared that they felt like they had been cornered once they made the mistake of responding and could hardly get out of it. Most recently, even somebody who works in a bank has fallen prey to this because the person at the moment believed, without reflection, that the email came from the pastor of the parish. One of the key ways to prevent ourselves from falling into these traps is to remember that we do not have to act or respond immediately.
When these unusual phone calls or emails come up, give yourself permission to not immediately act or respond. Time and distance will help us to recognize that something may be off or may be too good to be true. If you are unsure, do not press anything and move away from the computer or device to ask for a second opinion. Consult a trusted friend, the police, or any other authorities such as banking or financial institutions. Never share any personal, financial, or any government-issued identification information and passwords, as established and trusted institutions do not require such information over the phone or email. One should consult and verify the information outside of that phone call, email, or that screen pop-up.
A woman who lost her family’s life savings to scammers posing as Hong Kong authorities says she was “scared to death” and that four banks should have done more to protect her. A wire fraud expert says banks are obligated to make sure customers aren’t exploited and should do more to protect victims.
Read in CBC News: https://www.cbc.ca/news/gopublic/wire-transfer-fraud-1.5917139