ELKIN, N.C. (WGHP) — A church’s dreams of building a new place of worship were put on hold after they became victims of a scam.
“It was shocking. We went through emotions of shock, hurt, and ultimately a sense of loss,” Stephen Robbins, Associate Pastor at Elkin Valley Baptist Church said of the moment they realized hundreds of thousands of dollars were gone.
The trouble started on Nov. 4, 2022, when Elkin Valley Baptist Church realized they were missing $793,000. This was money that congregants and community members had helped raise in order to build a new sanctuary for the church.
“Everything from children giving us of their allowances we had a young man who did something with pennies and put them in little packages and was selling them for a dollar towards the building fund,” he said.
Every penny was needed for the construction of the new sanctuary, which was scheduled to be ready for services in May.
The church received two emails on the same day, back-to-back, asking for payment for the construction. Senior Pastor Johnny Blevins said they paid the bill through one of those emails, and even got a return email thanking them for the payment.
But the email they clicked and paid through was a scam, not the real bill, and more than half of the money raised in seven years of fundraising was gone in a flash.
“It was one of the hardest things I’ve done as a pastor, was to have that special meeting to tell them what happened,” said Blevins. “We’re a people of faith, so we will not let this knock us down. We will continue to move forward. This was an evil act, but good does overcome evil, and we’ll do that.”
There is a GoFundMe for the church as they work to recover some of the funds, and construction on the new sanctuary will begin again next month.
The FBI is taking the lead on the cyber scam investigation.