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David N. Kirkman
Task Force Alert
Asst Attorney General
Consumer Protection
NC Department of
P.O. Box 629
Raleigh, NC 27602

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Another Scam Targeting Churches

****** Fraud Alert #173 ******

The Mooresville Police Department is reporting a troublesome scam that targets religious communities. While it is not directed at seniors specifically, many on the Task Force might be position to spot or spread the word about this fraudulent scheme. Det. Gerald Childress of the Mooresville Police Department (704-664-3311) is requesting information on similar incidents.

The scheme is described in the following item from today’s Mooresville Tribune. Mooresville is about 30 minutes north of Charlotte, assuming it is not rush hour.

Churches scammed by caller who says she represents local charity

Mooresville Tribune
Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Mooresville police warn area churches to be on the lookout for someone trying to scam them out of money by impersonating the director of the Mooresville Christian Mission.

Police Det. Gerald Childress said Tuesday that someone called two area churches earlier this month claiming to be the Mission’s director, Valerie Chamberlain. The caller, said Childress, told the churches that the Mission had a client who needed immediate financial assistance and asked for their help.

The request, said Childress, was not out of the ordinary. Many area churches, he said, provide “assistance for the indigent people that the Christian Mission deals with.”

The caller knew both the church’s and the Mission’s procedures for how to handle such a request, so the request appeared legitimate, Childress said.

When the church asked the caller to fax over the paperwork necessary for granting the request, the caller told the church that the fax machine was broken, Childress said. The caller then said her client was in “dire need” of assistance and would come by and pick up the money immediately, and the paperwork would arrive later.

Childress said after the checks were picked up on Friday, Sept. 7, the two churches grew suspicious.

“The churches questioned the failure to send the documents,” he said. They called Chamberlain at the Mission, and she told them the requests had not come from her.

“We hadn’t called,” said Chamberlain. “There was not a referral from us.”

Chamberlain then called the police.

“(The mission was) prompt to call us and advise us of the situation,” said Childress.

The incident, he said, should have churches on their guard, but it should not cause them to doubt the Mission.

“This is not a bad reflection on the Christian Mission,” he said. “It’s a bad reflection on the person out there trying to scam church funds.”

Thankfully, said Childress, only one of the checks that was issued was cashed, and it was not for a significant amount of money.

Chamberlain said she is calling area churches that frequently assist the Mission to let them know about the situation. She said if a church gets a request from the Mission, they should hang up and call the Mission back to ensure the request is legitimate.

They should also make sure they have received the appropriate paperwork before they grant the request, she said.

Childress said the MPD is following the case and, based on descriptions from the churches who gave out checks, has a suspect in the case.

“We are investigating and we do have a pretty good suspect that we’re working on,” he said.

To report another incident or to provide information on this case, call 704-664-3311.


******End of Alert******

September 19, 2007

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