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BBB Release: Impostors Use Church As A Lure In Nigerian Scam

Anchorage, Alaska – July 8, 2010 – Better Business Bureau warns of swindles that target the kind-hearted: Beware of fraudulent church or faith-based solicitations requesting donations by e-mail or phone.

In an e-mail recently reported to BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington, the subject line states, "REQUEST FOR YOUR ASSISTANCE!!" The sender claims to be a prophet in Nigeria at "The Synagogue Church Of All Nation." The message requests donations to help build a new worship facility, orphanage, and rehabilitate family members of the victims killed in the 2010 Jos Riots.

However, the request appears to be part of a widespread Nigerian e-mail scam. The Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN), a real organization, has posted an alert on themaninthesynagogue.org to distance themselves from these fake e-mails.

Charitable solicitations: In the wake of tragedies, don't assume legitimacy.

  • Use BBB's Charity Review Program as a resource: www.bbb.org/charity.

  • Make sure soliciting charities are registered with the Alaska Department of Law.

  • If you receive a call from an unknown party or an e-mail from a sender claiming affiliation with a church, synagogue or place of worship, contact that establishment directly to authenticate the relationship.

  • Use a search engine or directory to get information on the organization. Don't immediately trust information provided by an unfamiliar solicitor.

  • Avoid providing personal or payment details to unsolicited requests. Never wire donation funds. 

Suspicious e-mails: Beware of unknown senders, aggressive pleas and poor grammar.

  • Do not click on links, open attachments or reply to the message. If it comes from a trusted source, call them to ensure that their account wasn't hacked.

  • Cautiously inspect links to avoid imitation websites. Some e-mails contain fake URLs that are off by one letter or include a different domain name—such as ".com" or ".net" when it should be “.org.”

  • If an e-mail or website appears fraudulent, report it to the InternetCrimeComplaintCenter at www.ic3.gov and e-mail the Federal Trade Commission at spam@uce.gov. Delete it from your inbox and run a computer virus scan.

Contact your BBB for more tips to avoid scams or visit www.bbb.org.

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About your BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington:
Your Better Business Bureau is a not-for-profit organization funded by Better Business Bureau Accredited Businesses. The BBB’s mission is to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust. For more information about the services and products provided by your BBB, call 206-431-2222 or 253-830-2924 in Washington, 503-212-3022 in Oregon, 907-562-0704 in Alaska, or visit our website at www.bbb.org.

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