Facebook scammers target religion

Posted by Nermin Hajdarbegovic

Facebook scammers are increasingly trying to imitate American religious leaders and rake in some easy money.

Since they are tapping an ample supply of gullible fans, business seems to be going well. 

The Kansas City Star reports that one scammer has created a fake page impersonating Rev. Adam Hamilton, who uses his legitimate Facebook page to keep in touch with his 18,000-member United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. The scammer, of course, doesn’t really care about the flock, he just wants to raise cash by peddling phony church mission projects. 

It is not an isolated case, either. Facebook scammers have targeted some of the best known evangelists such as Joel Osteen, Rick Warren and Craig Groeschel, with mixed results. Scammers also impersonated Bob Coy, Frank Santora, as well as a megachurch in Connecticut and a pastor in South Africa, who died 16 years ago.

It remains unclear how many followers were duped into handing over their hard earned cash to scammers - by which we mean Facebook scammers, not TV evangelists. Churches that have been targeted say that Facebook takes down phony pages on a routine basis, but as soon as it does, another one simply pops up.

Reverend Hamilton said he went out of his way to try and warn his congregation of potential fraud. 

“It sounds to me like another Nigerian scam,” he said.

Unfortunately for Hamilton, the scheme is much more sophisticated that an average Nigerian scam, as it relies on real identity theft rather than fairytales about princes and hidden billions.