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Avoid Phishing Scams

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We have received reports of more attempts to scam our members and attenders by someone pretending to be Pastor Bahe. The email message claims to be from Pastor Bahe and generally asks you to reply to the email because there is a request she wants you to handle confidentially or discretely.

Unfortunately, because the emails are from someone impersonating Pastor Bahe, there is very little we can do as a staff to prevent this. However, there are a few things you can remember to protect yourself:

  1. Please be extra cautious if you receive an email asking for a favor, to pay an invoice, buy a gift card, or anything that requires your financial attention, especially when the message tells you to not contact the sender due to being in a meeting or being too busy. If you ever have a question or concern about something you receive from the church, you can call the church office at 763-682-1245 or contact the staff/volunteer member directly. We will never communicate with you about money and refuse to talk to you in person about the same issue.
  2. Double-check the email address as well as the “name” that appears … even if it appears to come from someone you trust. Spoof emails are often some form of “pastor” + random numbers @gmail or other email providers (yahoo, hotmail, etc.). Whenever possible Zion staff will use our staff emails coming from @zionbuffalo.org. If you see a different domain please contact the church or staff directly to confirm the information. Individual staff email addresses are available in the monthly newsletter and on Zion’s website at ZionBuffalo.org/staff, and all staff can be reached via office@zionbuffalo.org. Council members can be reached via council@zionbuffalo.org.
  3.  Zion staff will never ask you to purchase gift cards or process other funds on an emergency basis. All contributions (including to any special projects) should be made at the church or using the information at ZionBuffalo.org/give. Any projects involving gift cards would involve dropping off the physical gift card at Zion (scammers would eventually ask you to purchase gift cards, scratch off the coating from the hidden code, and send a picture).

Here are examples from other congregations that have targeted with similar schemes: pillarcatholic.com/we-replied-to-a-parish-phishing-scam/ and warhornmedia.com/2022/05/02/dont-let-your-church-get-scammed/

It appears that in this instance a fraudulent email address may have been used to impersonate a member to gain access to a limited number of member email addresses via our private online directory, so the InFellowship directory has been turned off for now while our policies are reevaluated.

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