BEAUMONT, Texas — Texans are being warned about a national scam that has reached Beaumont, targeting church members, causing them to believe their ministers of pastors are contacting them to ask for money for a charitable cause.

A scammer poses as the priest or minister and asks the victim to buy a gift card and call a number. Callers are then asked for information from the back of the card, which is then used to deposit cash into scammers' accounts according to a Texas attorney general news release. 

The scammers are accessing church members' information from church bulletins or websites. The number used locally is 1-903-471-8046, although the numbers used can vary from congregation to congregation.

Churches throughout Texas have seen reports of this scam.

The State Attorney General has issued notice that this scam is national and the money is not being used for humanitarian reasons.

MORE | File an online fraud complaint

Suspected fraud can be reported to the attorney general's Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-800-621-0508 (toll-free). Online complaints can be made as well. 

"All Texans should be aware of unsolicited calls and texts from scammers impersonating leaders in their Church. This is a dirty trick criminals are using to make a quick buck at the expense of people of faith," Attorney General Paxton said in the release. "My office stands ready to assist all hard-working Texans who are harmed by these schemes. The consumer protection section of our website contains several resources on how to recognize, prevent and report scams like this. Being informed and remaining vigilant is the best way to prevent fraud and loss."

From a Texas Attorney General news release:

Attorney General Ken Paxton today issued a consumer alert regarding persons alleging to be priests or pastors texting members of the church and asking them to buy gift cards for a false charitable cause.

Texans have received deceptive texts from people pretending to be pastors, then requesting that they purchase a gift card and send them the information to access that card. The scammers claim these gift cards are needed for some charitable reason, but insist they cannot pick up a gift card themselves and the purchaser will be reimbursed.

“All Texans should be aware of unsolicited calls and texts from scammers impersonating leaders in their Church. This is a dirty trick criminals are using to make a quick buck at the expense of people of faith,” Attorney General Paxton said. “My office stands ready to assist all hard-working Texans who are harmed by these schemes. The consumer protection section of our website contains several resources on how to recognize, prevent and report scams like this. Being informed and remaining vigilant is the best way to prevent fraud and loss.”

We believe that the scammers are using information found on churches’ website or in churches’ online bulletins to trick members of the church into sending them gift cards. Churches throughout Texas have seen reports of this scam. 

Report suspected fraud to the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Division by calling toll-free 1-800-621-0508 or by filing an online complaint at https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/consumer-protection/file-consumer-complaint.