The Diocese of Trenton has issued an alert after parish priests and other clergy members have reported a circulation of email and text scams which use the name of a pastor to solicit funds via a gift card or cash donations from parishioners.

The DOT says these emails usually begin with a simple “Hi,” but no recipients’ name and then asks for financial help for a worthy cause with the pastor’s name at the bottom of the request.

Several pastors in the Diocese of Trenton have already heard from parishioners who have received emails or text messages, seemingly from the pastor, asking for donations.

"The Diocese takes this opportunity to advise parishioners that pastors do not raise money in this manner and to exercise the utmost caution when receiving this type of communication," The Diocese of Trenton said in a statement. "Some law enforcement in the area urge parishioners to question any email or text that doesn’t come from a person in their contacts."

Church officials with the diocese advise parishioners that If the person is not known, you should call the person asking for funds to verify the story.

If a pastor’s name is used meanwhile, parishioners should contact the parish to verify the legitimacy of the appeal.

Anyone who feels that they have been the victim of this type of scam is urged to contact their local police department.

The warning out of the Trenton Diocese follows a recent report by CBS Philadelphia about parishes in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia being targeted.

The Diocese of Trenton serves the people of Monmouth, Ocean, Burlington and Mercer Counties.

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