Scammers target QCA churches through email, text messages

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BETTENDORF, Iowa (KWQC) - A Bettendorf priest wants people to be alert of scammers who could steal your money, especially during the holiday season.

In June a scammer impersonated Father Jim Vrba through emails to parishioners at St. John Vianney's Catholic Church. Now it's happening again, but through text messages.

"It starts off by saying: "hello how are you. I need an assistance from you." grammatically incorrect. "Please let me know if you get this. God bless you." then they use my name," Father Jim said.

The scammer attempted to get eBay gift cards from vulnerable people.

""please let me know if that's okay with you. Also don't forget to let me know if you would want me to pay you back the $400 in cash or check." and if they send the $400 it's gone. It's gone," Vrba said.

If you receive an email or text message claiming to be someone from your church, and asking for money, it's a good rule of thumb to check with the church yourself.

"I would never ever ask money from anyone. And certainly not from a text message or email. I don't do stuff like that," Vrba said.

After it happened to parishioners at Father Vrba's church, he called Bettendorf Police Dept. to investigate. They contacted eBay, but the cards and money had already been used.

"This is just vicious. It's using the church. Using a religious organization to scam people. That's horrible. That's horrible. And it's downright sinful," Vrba said.

If you paid a scammer with a gift card, report is to the card company and to the Federal Trade Commission here.

Contacts for major gift card companies:


  • Amazon: Call (888) 280-4331

  • Google Play: (855) 466-4438

  • iTunes: (800) 275-2273

  • MoneyPak: (866) 795-7969