How the Scam Works:
You see your church’s pastor or a popular minster on Facebook. The profile looks normal; it has photos and inspirational posts. To show your support, you “friend” the pastor.
699 Scammers Set Up Fake Facebook Profiles for Religious Leaders
But as the profile gains more “friends,” you notice that the content changes. Now, the posts are frequently, even redundantly, about the importance of giving to charity. And the pastor starts requesting followers donate to a specific charity. 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. The account you followed was a scam.
The latest trend in Facebook scams is for con artists to impersonate popular religious figures. Once they gain a following, scammers use their influence to drive donations to fake charities. The “pastor” then pockets the funds raised. (Above is a post from a scammer impersonating Joel Osteen and asking for donations.)
How can you avoid these scams? Do a quick search on Facebook before you “friend” a public figure to make sure you have the correct account. The number of friends/likes is a giveaway. Also, always check out a charity before you donate. BBB Wise Giving Alliance is a great place to start.
I Spotted a Fake Facebook Account. What Should I Do? Don’t share, like or comment on the posts. That just perpetuates Facebook spam. Be sure to report fake profiles to Facebook following these instructions.