BBB warns users about Facebook con artists impersonating church pastors for money

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – Don’t be
surprised if a con artist posing as Houston megachurch Pastor Joel Osteen tries to
swindle Facebook users into giving money to causes that don’t exist,
the Better Business Bureau reports.

Better Business Bureau logo (cropped)

The BBB alerted users of the new
Facebook scam in its consumer news and opinion blog last week.

The scam works
like this: A popular minister like Osteen or your church’s pastor creates a
Facebook profile. Nothing about the profile, which features photos and other inspiring
posts, initially seems out of the ordinary, so users send friend requests to the religious

As the page gains followers, the scam artist begins pushing the importance of giving to charitable organizations. BBB spokeswoman Emily
Patterson said the “pastor” starts encouraging users to donate to a specific charity.

Using the pastor’s influence,
scammers then collect funds brought in by Facebook users.

“When you do a search, you find that
the charity doesn’t exist and your pastor has another Facebook profile with 10x
the number of friends,” Patterson said in the BBB blog. “The account you
followed was a scam.”

The BBB recommends users search
Facebook before sending a friend request to any public figure to ensure they
have the correct account. Users can also check out a charity by searching the organization online or visiting BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance.

Send Lucy Berry an email at

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