Phone Scam in the Southeast Targets UM Churches

September 06, 2013

Please be aware of a phone scam hitting United Methodist Churches throughout the southeastern jurisdiction.  It seems to have started in the western part of the United States but is moving east.

Several churches in our surrounding area have reported scam artists contacting churches and asking for help. During the last month, churches in Texas, Delaware, Maryland, North Alabama, South Carolina and Mississippi have received calls. The churches that have been contacted warn that the scammers are very convincing.
The Scam: Someone calls claiming to represent a Bishop from the United Methodist Church, so far they have claimed to represent  Bishop W. Earl Bledsoe, Bishop L. Jonathan Holston and Bishop James King but they may use any name. The scam artist notes that a relative of one of the bishops will be moving to the area and that your congregation has been recommended for the relative to join. The scammer then explains that the relative has experienced car trouble, or some other difficulty, and needs financial assistance to complete the move. The scammer drops the name of your bishop and then may include a follow-up call from someone claiming to work in your bishop's office.
If you or any of your pastors or churches should receive a call for help from a Bishop or their family, do not accept it as fact. Please alert your District Superintendent or the conference office to any calls that you might receive requesting money or assistance of any kind. Also, copy the phone number that may pop up on your Caller ID should you receive a scam call and provide it to your DS or the conference office.