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Springfield priest warns about impersonation scam

Father Mark Bentz said the scammers have been claiming to be him in emails for over a year.

Posted: Feb 11, 2019 6:10 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- A priest at Saint Alice Parish in Springfield is warning his congregation, saying that scammers have been impersonating him in emails and he's not the only priest being affected.

Father Mark Bentz said the scammers have been claiming to be him in emails for over a year.

"In the last two months, it's been happening with greater frequency," Bentz said. "Not just to me but pretty much every priest in our area."

Bentz said the scammers will set up an email address similar to the priest's and email people asking for money and claiming that a friend is in the hospital. He said in one case they asked people to send photos of the account numbers for iTunes gift cards.

"To impersonate a priest to try to take advantage of people, it's really sick," Bentz said. "It does bother me, but you know I pray for them, and I pray they have a change of heart and see this isn't the way to live."

Bentz sent an email to his congregation on Sunday warning them of the scam. He said he's not sure if anyone at Saint Alice Parish fell victim to the scam but said a priest at Nativity of the Mother of God Ukrainian Catholic Church in Springfield was also impersonated.

He's urging anyone who thinks they're are being scammed to call the sender directly before sending money.

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