In August, the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Global Ministries warned UMC members about scam e-mails seeking donations to aid overseas missionaries.
A variety of scams exist, but the bottom line is that someone wants money.
Eva Jensen and Sandra Holloway, Global Mission staff, said it happens in the ELCA too. Holloway said some e-mails are directed to congregations.
Both advise not responding to the e-mails until you check with synod offices in case the message came from a country with which there is a companion synod relationship. Jensen emphasized the importance of a close relationship with companion synod leaders in order to check the veracity of requests.
If the e-mail concerns missionaries, check with David Lerseth at ELCA Global Mission (800-638-3522, ext. 2641). “While it’s appealing to give to these types of requests,” he said, “it is always safer to give through your ELCA Global Mission, which has been involved in sending and supporting missionaries for 163 years.”
Such fraud happens in the U.S. too. Billions of dollars have been stolen in religion-related fraud in recent years, according to the North American Securities Administrators Association. An Aug. 14 Associated Press report said investors don’t ask enough questions because they feel safe with what appears to be a church-related solicitation.
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers