ALLISON PARK (KDKA) — Members of a local church were scammed after receiving a spoof email that appeared to be from their pastor.

The email went to members of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Allison Park.

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It was signed “Pastor Jeff” and asked recipients for help.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Pastor Jeffrey Sterling of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church said that’s how he normally signs emails to his congregation.

“There’s a lot of trust that you have with your congregation, and when they see your name and recognize that it is a way that I often write a greeting in my letters, it’s quite unsettling,” he said.

Church member Robb Montgomery knew immediately it was a spoofing email scam.

“I noticed really quickly that the email address that is was from was incorrect,” Montgomery said. “It was very close and very convincing, but it wasn’t correct.”

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Montgomery called his pastor but then decided to respond as if he fell for the spoof.

“I was trying to figure out how he was going to persuade people that may be in my congregation that may not be as savvy,” Montgomery said.

Additional emails asked for gift cards for cancer patients and instructed to send a photo of the card’s PIN number.

Sterling said this isn’t the first he’s heard about these spoofing emails targeting churches.

“I’ve had a number of my pastoral colleagues have this identical scam happen to them in the past three or four months,” Montgomery said.

This type of spoofing email seems to be more widespread than just churches.

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Shaler Township said a spoof email has been going around posing as the township’s treasurer.