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Beware: Scammers Are Now Using Joel Osteen, Popular Religious Leaders to Steal Your Money

"The account you followed was a scam."

While the Better Business Bureau's (BBB) Consumer News and Opinion blog may not be among the Internet's most-read sites, it does provide some viable advice about how Americans can protect themselves against predatory practices. Case-in-point: Recently, the BBB penned a piece entitled, "Scammers Set Up Fake Facebook Profiles for Religious Leaders" -- a warning post that Joel Osteen fans, among others, might want to pay attention to.

Con artists have apparently taken to a new tactic: Using religious figures to trick unsuspecting Facebook users into donating money to nonsense ploys. The BBB charges that these people pretend to be pastors, then they scam people out of their resources for "non-existent causes."

The consumer watchdog explains that people may see what they assume to be the official page of their favorite preacher -- only, many, many times, it's an imposter. After they "friend" the person and receive inspirational posts and photos, something changes.

The BBB notes that redundant postings calling for donations emerge. They are specific, asking people to give money to pointed charities -- but these causes apparently don't exist and are simply siphons setup to nab money.

"When you do a search, you find that the charity doesn’t exist and your pastor has another Facebook profile with 10x the number of friends," the BBB writes. "The account you followed was a scam."

In providing a recent example, the group shares a June 5 post from a faux Joel Osteen account. In it, the individual pretending to be the popular pastor mentions an orphanage and asks his followers to donate:

Photo Credit: BBB/Facebook

The business organization recommends that people do a search before they "friend" of "fan" any public leaders, including religious leaders. It's generally relatively easy to determine which account is legitimate and, before donating, it's always a good idea to be fully sure of the charity and the location to which your money will be sent.



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