Parishioners at Washington State church thought they were heeding their pastor’s call to send iTunes gift cards to a member of their flock who’d been stricken with cancer. Instead, they were adding to the listening library of an online scammer, according to KIRO 7 news in Bellevue, Wash.
Newport Presbyterian Church Pastor Vonna Thomas, who was an unwitting party to the plot, found the grift “creepy and disgusting.”
An alleged scammer using an email address similar to Thomas’ reportedly reached out to Seattle-area churchgoers urging them to give the gift of music. One well-meaning donor sent “hundreds of dollars” in gift cards, then got a follow-up email asking for more cards.
Thomas said the alleged scammer signed off with blessings and exclamation points, which is how she wraps up her emails.
“That to me was creepy and disgusting,” the pastor said. “These truly are professionals who are preying on people, no pun intended."
Thomas said she’s been told that her church in Newport is among a handful in the area that have been targeted with a scam like this one. Bellevue police are investigating the alleged crime. They reportedly believe this particular hustle is working its way across the country.