New scam primarily targets area Hispanics and Catholics, police say

Published: May. 31, 2019 at 12:11 PM CDT
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Waco police are warning residents about a new scam, which involves calls purportedly from pastors of several local churches, that primarily targets Hispanics and Catholics.

“The scammer will call acting as the preacher or pastor of a church and ask the parishioner to go buy gift cards,” Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said in a Facebook post.

“They are then instructed to send photographs of the cards or the card information to the phone number that the scam call comes from.”

Once the victim provides the card information or photographs to the scammers, who have some information both about the potential victim and the church they claim to represent, money can be withdrawn from accounts.

“Most often the number the scammer is calling from is not traceable. Please be aware that this is a scam and the gift card money is not going to where you think it is,” Swanton said.

Swanton said the best way to give is to take the donation directly to the church or to the person for whom it’s intended.

“We recommend never buying gift cards and freely giving their information or photos of those cards to someone over the phone,” he said.