By Emily Drooby
John Quaglione, the Diocese of Brooklyn’s Deputy Press Secretary, got what looked like a text message from Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio asking for a favor.
“I cautiously responded and asked, ‘how can I help?,’” Quaglione said.
With the knowledge that someone had already tried scamming Catholics in the Diocese, he was on high alert.
According to Quaglione, the texts asked “for 300 dollars worth of gift cards in 100 dollar denominations for a person suffering from cancer in a hospital, and they go on further in the message to ask me to pray for the person.”
That text, and others, are all fake.
Currents News first reported on the scam two weeks ago, when at least one person was swindling thousands of dollars from the faithful by posing as local pastors.
Now the con artist is upping the ante by posing as Brooklyn’s beloved Bishop.
“Very unfortunate,” said Bishop DiMarzio of the incident. “You feel terrible that people are harassed like this, and some might even believe it. It’s very much a shame.”
At least six churches have been targeted, including Saint Rose of Lima in Rockaway Queens, Saint Helen in Howard Beach, Incarnation Church in Queens Village, Our Lady of Perpetual Help in South Ozone Park, Saint Clare in Rosedale, and Saint Fortunata in East New York.
John Heyer is the Director of the Annual Catholic Appeal, a campaign conducted in every parish of Brooklyn and Queens, where people donate money. He said parishioners should be aware that this kind of text is unusual.
“We don’t send out texts and ask you to then donate things like gift cards,” he warned.
Heyer also explained that parishioners would only receive a text if they sent one first, signing up for an annual Catholic Appeal notification.
“Then you would receive a response to the Annual Catholic Appeal donation page, where you can give your donation, which is completely secure.”