Bellevue Police: Scammers targeting church congregations

BELLEVUE, Wash. -- Police in Bellevue are warning about a scam targeting local religious communities.

Police say a scammer, pretending to be a pastor, emailed congregation members to ask for gift cards, saying they would be used to help sick friends.

The FTC says it's a scam popping up more and more often.

Scammers create a fake email address, often only a few letters or numbers different from the real deal, and ask worshipers to buy gift cards and reply with information like the card number and PIN.

Once you send that information, the scammers can take all the money on the card without a trace.

The FTC says your best protection is to double-check the details before you contribute.  Give your church leadership a call and ask if they're really gathering gift cards.

If the call to action turns out to be a scam, let officials know.  The FTC is working to find these people behind the scam, and every new report helps them narrow in on the criminals.