CANADA – Rev. Simon Bar Sinister, Vice President of Lutheran Church in Canada, is warning Canadian churches and charities to be on the lookout for an affinity fraud scam. In the scam, a purported representative of a church extension fund solicits other members of the church asking them to trust them with their life savings under the slogan “nobody’s lost a penny for over 80 years.” What they fail to mention is that any invested funds would be used to support a number of non-performing loans that will never be repaid and that the fund had contemplated bankruptcy multiple times over the years.
Rev. Bar Sinister’s own church – St Judas Lutheran – was the recent target of this scam. A CEF representative solicited several members of the congregation’s Church Council pretending to be Rev. Bar Sinister. The texts addressed Council members by name and asked them to invest in CEF.
“As it was only Council members who were texted, and none of these members have a home phone, I believe the fraudster got the information from the mailing list that every CEF representative maintains,” explained Rev. Bar Sinister, noting that this information has been maintained since CEF’s inception.
Unfortunately members of St. Judas Lutheran fell for the scam, and Rev. Bar Sinister is warning other churches and other charitable organizations not to make their mistake. Rev Bar Sinister noted “Churches and other charitable organizations should be warned about this kind of fraud.”
“Don’t assume a fund is solvent just because someone knows your name and your pastor’s name or that the church has been distributing fund literature for years,” he continued. “If you receive an unusual request—via text or otherwise—from someone claiming to be selling a ‘safe’ fund even though its missed multiple audits, or has a number of non-performing loans, or is being used to support speculative investment projects that are outside of the funds mandate, contact the AB SEC so they can investigate.”
Readers are encouraged to share this story with churches and other charitable organizations
For the humor impaired – this is a sarcastic twist on a recent warning posted to Canadian “No Comment” Lutheran.