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Church leaders say parishioners being targeted in gift card scam via text messages

PITTSBURGH — Church leaders of Saints Martha and Mary Parish are telling parishioners to ignore any text messages asking for gift cards for the pastor.

“I think if they would use those talents and intelligence for good, the world would certainly be a better place,” said Mary Jordan, pastoral associate with the parish.

Jordan said scammers are sending text messages to her members, asking them to buy the gift cards for Pastor Robert Vular.

“We count on our technology, our email, our YouTube channel, all these things to try to reach folks. And so when something like this is used for bad, it definitely puts a damper on things,” Jordan said.

She said nobody has fallen for the scam yet, and it’s not the first time it’s happened.

Caitlin Driscoll with the Southwestern Pennsylvania Better Business Bureau said people need to verify the source anytime a financial payment is involved, even if it appears to come from someone you know. Also, anytime someone wants the payment in a gift card form, 9 times out of 10, it’s a scam.

“Because they don’t carry the same protections as other methods of payment and can’t be easily tracked, gift cards are really attractive payment options for scammers,” Driscoll said.