Church warns parishioners about a scam involving the priest

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WEST FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) -- We continue to alert you to phone scams in the Valley; the latest involved the Holy Cross Catholic Church in West Fargo, and a long-time priest there, Father Jim Meyer.

"We're very concerned about reports that we heard that one of our priests had his identity and his phone number maybe hijacked by a scammer," said Paul Braun, the Director of Communications at the Diocese of Fargo.

Many pulled out their phones this morning to an unusual notification from the "My Parish" app.

That's a phone app some churchgoers use.

It said, "If you have received a message looking like it came from Father Meyer (email or text) asking for gifts cards, it is a scam. Please disregard any message of that kind."

"We understand this happens in a lot of places, but we're very concerned that this happened with one of our priests," said Braun.

One of those Priests is Father Jim Meyer. He's part of the Diocese of Fargo. He'll be celebrating his 25th anniversary of ordination on May 29th, which is why it's believed scammers are targeting him.

"What cyber security experts have said to me is that if you get one of these from a trusted person or a pastor or a friend, you should probably contact that person first before you take any action, in order to protect yourself."

James Beck with Epic Technologies, agrees. He says if you receive a text or email from someone asking for money, it should set off a red flag.

"At that point, I would want to call that number and talk directly to the priest, especially if that number isn't already saved in my phone as the priest's number that should also be a red flag," said Beck.

Braun says that he's reached out to his churches I.T. expert on the issue, in the hope of figuring out who the scammer is.

To learn more on how to avoid being hacked check out this article: https://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-avoid-being-hacked-2015-4