Affinity Scammers Targeting Christians
One of the pillars of our faith is Jesus’ mandate for us to help those in need and give back when we can. Not only does giving bring us closer to Go and spreads the love of Christm, it just plain feels good to help.
Sadly, there are opportunists looking to take advantage of this kindness, which is nothing new.
It’s hard to pinpoint where fraud started, but the written history of financial fraud begins in 300 B.C. when Greek merchant Hegestratos concocted an insurance scheme to cover a barge load of corn. He planned to sink the boat and collect an insurance claim. In a stroke of poetic justice, he drowned in the act, harking the words of Proverbs 20:17, “Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterwards his mouth will be full of gravel.”
We may think we have safeguarded our hearts and wallets from those that seek to use our faith against us for their own personal gain, but along came the internet.
Social media offers some truly amazing ways for the faithful to connect, share, and learn from each other. Christians have created hundreds of groups on Facebook alone to post testimonies, ask questions, and read affirmations.
But with social media being a catch all, it leaves the door open for financial predators.
For instnces, one story posted on Patheos uncovered the acts of Deborah H., a woman who claims to be Christian and admittedly lied about her hardships in order to take money from group members.
“She [Deborah] said she was not able to find a mobile groomer that would take a credit card,” alleged victim Rosann wrote in a group for lost and found animals in the San Bernardino Mountains. “I finally sent her $100 through Facebook to help her out. I’m saddened to say she now thinks I’m a bank and will lend/give her money…Sad that she now wants to take advantage of me.”
Countless other alleged victims posted messages on Facebook groups warning others of Deborah.
Another case was uncovered in 2013 and involved scammers creating fake profiles of popular pastors to target church members to turn over their money for spiritual well being. This case of fraud was so rampant that the FBI got involved, but no conclusion or outcome was ever made public.
Now, I do not want anyone to start closing their hearts to our responsibilities as Christians. We must give back; we must help. But in the cyber age we must practice due diligence. Giving isn’t a game of pin the tail on the donkey. Don’t close your eyes and hope you hit the mark.
Instead, if you are in a financial position to give, speak to your church leaders. Ask where your dollars are needed most, aside from tithing, or seek out charities and organizations that have oversight and are trusted by the community.