An email scam targeting parishioners in Catholic churches and staff at Catholic institutions across Canada is active in the Archdiocese of Edmonton.

Typically, a false email from a priest, church official or supervisor is sent asking for electronic gift cards to be sent to another address so that they may be given to someone in need or used for a fundraising event.

The scam has been previously reported by several other dioceses, and there are several reports of parishioners who have lost money to a fraudster pretending to be the pastor of a parish -- including in the Archdiocese of Edmonton.

If you receive such an email message, please confirm it is genuine before responding in any way; it is likely a scam. Exercise caution when checking email messages. If the request seems at all unusual, check the email address on the message – often it will not be the person’s genuine address. Even it does look genuine, always verify suspect messages by phoning the sender on a known phone number (not the phone number in the suspect message).

If you have been targeted and purchased the cards, try to cancel them as soon as possible to see if you can get a refund or new cards issued. And report the theft to police.

Here are some example email messages:

I need a favor from you, please email me back as soon as possible
Hope to hear from you soon.

Blessings
Fr. ***

Sent from my iPhone


To: *****
Subject: Re: GOD BLESS YOU
I should have called you yet I can't do this now because am in a pressing meeting,i need to get an iTunes card of $500 denomination of $50 or $100 for a friend at the hospital, would you be able to get it from any store around you? I'll pay you back when I get back.Let me know asap if you can get the cards for me
Blessings
Fr. ***

Sent from my iPhone

Be careful out there!