SCAM WARNING

Putnam County Sheriff Robert L. Langley Jr. warns residents about a scam targeting parishioners of local places of worship. In this scam the “scammers”, purporting to be the Pastor/Priest or other leader of a place of worship, sends a text message to the victim, who is a parishioner of that place of worship. The scammer, via the text message, explains to the victim that they are collecting Steam Cards and/or iTunes gift cards for patients battling Coronavirus. The scammers direct the victim to purchase the cards, scratch off the numbers on the back of the card and send screenshots of the codes to the scammers via text message. In several cases the scammers specifically request that the victim’s purchase gift cards in $100 denominations. We believe this specific request is an effort to avoid detection by convenience store cashiers and clerks trained to spot signs of fraud.

We have also seen the scammers address the victim by first name and sign the text message as the pastor/priest/Msgr. of the place of Worship. Putnam County residents should be aware of this trend and variations of this scam because scammers routinely change names, organizations, and the gift card brands they request. We are aware that this scam has been seen in other parts of the state and we encourage those reading this to re-share or re-post this alert to increase awareness. Lastly, we encourage anyone who is contacted by these scammers to report the incident to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at www.ic3.gov , even if they do NOT send money. Any county residents who suffer a financial loss should report the crime to the Sheriff’s Office or their local police department for further investigation.