Hey everyone – Max Buondonno here, bulletin editor and webmaster at St. Damien Parish. Recently, we were hit by another round of scammy messages being sent out to some of our parishioners. Here’s a quick breakdown of what that means.

Somebody or some group of people decided it would be a good idea to collect email addresses and phone numbers from resources within both Catholic and other religious organizations. This type of data collection is called “phishing.” The scammers “phished” for St. Damien parishioners’ emails and phone numbers by reading our website and bulletin. Because we regularly publish contact information on both, it gave the scammers a great opportunity for them to do their dirty work. After collecting the information, they sent out fake messages claiming to be Father Michael Rush, our pastor, or “Reverend Michael P. Rush”, a name Fr. Rush never goes by, in some cases.

I’ve had parishioners report the same message to me over and over again: whoever it is sending out the messages, they want your money, and they’re willing to take it in any form they can get it. That’s why, a lot of the times, they ask for gift cards. Can you return gift cards and get your money back? No, and that’s exactly what they want.

Here’s an example of a message that was sent out yesterday to a variety of our parishioners.

“Chris i need a favor from you,please text me back as soon as possible

Rev. Michael P. Rush”

If you or someone you know received this message over text message or email, please call the parish office at (609) 399-0648. Alternatively, you can reach out to me directly by using the contact form below. I’d like to keep tabs on who these scammers are targeting so that, hopefully, I can pin-point where they’re coming from.

These scams tend to go out in waves. We’ll see parishioners receive the phoney messages one week, then a month could go by and fake emails could be sent out. Unfortunately, the frequency these scammers send out their messages is out of our control, so there’s a chance they’ll strike again.

Thanks for your cooperation on this front. I greatly appreciate it.

God bless,

– Max Buondonno

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