PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Synagogues in the Pittsburgh area and across the country are being victimized by an elaborate email scam.
Forged emails that look like they’re from your rabbi asking congregants for gift cards are making the rounds.
And it’s all a hoax.
These thieves are preying on people’s religious beliefs to get their money.
Even worse, they’re doing it in the name of your rabbi.
As far as KDKA knows, no one has fallen victim to the scheme here in the Pittsburgh area, but members of the faith are being warned.
“Hi how are you doing? I need an assistance from you,” says the email from Rabbi Meyer.
Is it really from Rabbi Meyer?
“It definitely was not,” says Rabbi Aaron Meyer.
“Although, they were able to create an email spoof that made it appear fairly credibly as if it was.”
A bogus email, made to look like it’s coming from Rabbi Aaron Meyer of the Temple Emanuel in Mount Lebanon has been sent to many of his congregants. It makes a shameful and bogus request.
“Each of them contained a request for money, often in the form of gift cards,” he said. “Purporting to go for those undergoing cancer treatments that I’ve been visiting in local hospitals.”
It’s not just Temple Emanuel. Similar schemes are underway at the Tree of Life and temples across the country.
The Tree of Life posted a warning on Faecbook, saying anyone who receives these fake emails shouldn’t click any links, respond or take any action.
“To prey upon people of such good intent or who are doing their best by the tenants of their faith to take care of others. To use that inclination for evil is just wrong,” he said.
Rabbis do ask for money to help others. But it would never be in e-mails like these.
“Those requests will never contain urgency. It will never be emotionally manipulative. It will never be sudden. And they’ll never take place over email,” he says.
How are these con artists obtaining the email addresses of members of the temple?
The rabbi says he would never ask for a gift card.
Police are investigating.