Don’t Buy the Gift Card

Calvary has heard from a number of parishioners that they are receiving so-called “phishing” emails that ask for money, gift cards, or other favors posing as Rector Scott Walters.


The scheme involves cybercriminals mimicking church priests or other staff. Criminals typically pose as personnel in positions of authority and ask victims for money transfers or gift cards. Others ask to pay invoices or send the attacker sensitive data. In these cases, the scammers will often manipulate the “from” email address and name so that it appears to be coming from someone you know. The attacker uses a free email account and registers it with an impersonated name. They then send an email to an unsuspecting recipient asking for immediate help in order to get a task done (such as purchasing a gift card or wiring money).


Phishing has been around for a long time but continues to grow increasingly sophisticated and persuasive. Phishers may perfectly mimic logos, use email addresses that sound legitimate, and include familiar-sounding language.


Unfortunately, it is impossible to stop these attacks. They are not the same as hacking, in which a person’s real email address is compromised; in phishing attempts, emails are sent through fake email addresses that look real and use complicated systems that hide the originating email address. But by being vigilant, you can protect yourself from becoming a victim.

Some suggestions:
    • Check sender details carefully. Any suspicious email message should be investigated before replying. Pay attention to the message content, including attachments and URLs.


    • When in doubt, call: If there are questions about any email, do not reply. Instead, pick up the phone and call Calvary at 901-525-6602.


    • Label it spam: If your email service has the ability, report the email as spam.


    • Know: No one on Calvary’s staff will ever request funds by email, any request you receive should be verified with the church office.


    • Look out for other issues: Scams are not just about emails. In recent weeks we have heard of callers reporting to be the IRS or other institutions, and they have requested money. These sorts of scams also target our elderly parishioners. Always review and update your own passwords!


Going forward, if you receive any suspicious emails, you can notify Calvary and the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team, or US-CERT, part of the Department of Homeland Security. Information and links are below:

    • Report Phishing Attacks: the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team has an Incident Reporting page to report email phishing, as well as an email to forward them to, at https://www.us-cert.gov/report-phishing.



Questions? Call Calvary at 901-525-6602.