For Immediate Release: April 21, 2020
The Catholic Diocese of Richmond has been made aware of individuals receiving emails from scammers impersonating the Most Rev. Barry C. Knestout, bishop of Richmond. The emails are from a fake gmail account and begin with a “hi, how are you doing” message then ask for “assistance from you, email as soon as you get this message.” Upon further response to the fake account, the individual is requested to send a gift card or asks for financial help related to COVID-19.
The emails are a hoax. All official diocesan email communication comes from an @richmonddiocese.org email address.
The Diocese of Richmond wants individuals to know members of the clergy do not raise money in this manner nor solicit for gift cards or for people to verify personal information online. Requests for money are done in churches or through official collections approved by the diocese.
If you receive an email from anyone, no matter their title or position with the diocese or from a parish, soliciting gift cards or cash donations, please exercise extreme caution.
According to the Virginia Attorney General Office (OAG), scammers are using the COVID-19 pandemic to target Virginians through a variety of phony requests for money. They are warning the public about the scams. You can read more about the alert from the OAG: https://www.oag.state.va.us/consumer-protection/index.php/scams-information/scam-alerts
The diocese does not want you to fall prey to a scam like this. If you, your friends or family have received emails or possible texts, you can report scams to Virginia’s Consumer Protection Section by visiting email@example.com and filling out a complaint form or calling 1-800-552-9963.
For helpful tips on how to avoid being taking advantage of, visit the Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Information Page.