Scammers targeting churches in Davidson County

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DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. -- Scammers are targeting churches in Davidson County, posing as pastors and trying to convince churches to hand over money, according to the sheriff's office.

Davidson County Sheriff David Grice said the scammers will send an email to the church treasurer, pretending to be their pastor. In one case under investigation, the scammer asked the church office to withdraw money and deposit it into a Bank of America account.

The church realized it was a scam, but the sheriff wants to put the scam on the radar, to prevent other churches from falling for it.

High Rock Church in Lexington is getting ready to hand out food. Donations from the congregation keep the church, and projects like this one, up and running.

"They're stealing from God. They're stealing from the church and from the people," Pastor Mike Hillard said.

"They're not immune from being the victims themselves," Grice said.

"It's disgusting, and I would think that maybe the reason we're a target, or churches are targets, maybe the scammers feeling that the church people are trusting, so we would feel like this isn't going to happen to us," Hillard added.

Grice says scammers are using the information found on churches' website to pose as pastors over email.

"Maybe it's my email address with a dot or an underscore," Hillard said.

Grice didn't want to name the churches targeted by the scam because it's part of an open investigation.

Hillard says he's surprised the scammers would pose as a pastor, because most pastors rarely send direct requests for money.

"It would be so unusual and I would think my office manager would come to me and say, 'Mike, are you sure about this?'" he said.

And if he does, there's a list of people who need to sign off on it.

"We have good checks and balances," Harris said.

But small churches may not have the same resources. Grice says the emails look legitimate and a church could easily carry out the request before asking questions.

"If they were to scam for $225 and they were to actually contact us, that might slip through," Hillard said.

If a scammer is that desperate to make a quick buck, Hillard says they should reach out to the church for help, instead of trying to scam them.

"If it's a legitimate cause, maybe that's something we can help with, without having to go through the scamming," he said.

If your church gets a similar email, call law enforcement right away.

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