‘They’re even going after the church’: Lincoln police, pastors issue alert about scams
Pastor Michael Halfhill addresses his congregation at Piedmont Park Church every Sunday - but this weekend, he's got an additional message for his members.
Pastor Michael Halfhill addresses his congregation at Piedmont Park Church every week – but this weekend, he’s got an additional message for his members.
It’s a warning about scams, and comes after members of his church received emails and text messages from someone pretending to be him. The imposter asked people to buy gift cards and then send them the codes.
It’s something Halfhill says he would never do.
“We will not solicit funds through text or email or anything like that,” he said. “Don’t send any money.”
Fortunately, none of the Piedmont Park members fell for the fraud, and Halfhill alerted the Lincoln Police Department.
It’s the third case of this sort of scheme LPD has investigated in the past year. Halfhill says he’s spoken to other pastors across the city who say they’ve experienced similar situations.
Halfhill sent an email to his members alerting them about the scam. He plans to reiterate the warning from the pulpit on Saturday.
“We have worship service so I’ll announce it up front: No, don’t accept anything that looks suspicious. Always contact me and ask questions,” he said. “We will not ask for funds and money that way.”
While impersonation scams of public officials or law enforcement officers is nothing new, Halfhill says it’s disturbing that criminals seem to think nothing is sacred.
“I know this is a world now of scammers and hackers and stuff. But I thought, ‘My goodness, now they’re even going after the church – and church members who have very giving and loving hearts and want to help people,” he said. “And I suppose maybe that’s why scammers see this as a potential spot where they can get funds.”
If you get a call, email, or message you feel is suspicious, the best thing to do is ignore it and contact authorities.