Scammers impersonating Royal Oak churchgoers target other church members

Scammers pretending to be members at a Royal Oak church are targeting other churchgoers to steal money from them.

The scammers are sending emails that appear to come from churchgoers at First Presbyterian Church of Royal Oak asking the recipient to buy digital gift cards for them to help a friend. Each time, they ask for $300 worth of gift cards. 

Some people responded to these emails.

"When they did that, some back and forth began and it was a scam, so they were hearing from a scammer who was writing impersonating their friend, one of our church members," pastor Emma Nickel said. "We know not just church members but within those circles of the people who were hacked, at least four people who responded and did end up purchasing the gift cards and ended up giving money to the hacker."

And these scammers are getting more tech-savvy, making it harder to recognize it isn't legitimate.

"In this case, it wasn’t a spoofed email, it was the actual email address. So, they had really no way of knowing unless they were on to the idea that this is a way scammers are working today," Nickel said. "I think calling to confirm, sending a new email, but maybe the phone call or the in-person ask is the way to really find out these days."