Bishops warn against scams targeting Filipino Catholics

Con artists using Church and clergy in online messages to dupe people into parting with their precious cash
Bishops warn against scams targeting Filipino Catholics

A screenshot of a warning posted by Manila Cathedral about an online scam. reporter, Manila
April 30, 2019
Church leaders in the Philippines have warned against the proliferation of online scams that have recently targeted unsuspecting Catholics.

Manila Cathedral issued a call last week against a social media account selling "miraculous medals" and claiming to be connected with the Church.

The bogus Facebook account "Youth for Manila Cathedral" claimed religious items it was selling had been blessed by Vatican priests and bishops.

It further said proceeds from sales would be donated to the cathedral for its renovation.

The management of Manila Cathedral, however, said the social media account was fake.

"There is no such group, 'Youth for Manila Cathedral', that will donate proceeds for the renovation of the cathedral," read a statement issued by the management.

"There are no such things as medals blessed by bishops, priests, or the pope for sale. This is a sin called Simony," it added.

In the central Philippines, Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu reminded Catholics to exercise caution when it comes to the use of social media.

"Be extra careful and don’t be gullible and believe everything that is posted online but rather, always double check," said the prelate.

He warned people not to rush in sending donations if one is not sure where the money will go.

Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of Cubao also warned against a message claiming to have come from his diocese soliciting money supposedly to go towards "triple bypass surgery" for him.

Archbishop Emeritus Orlando Cardinal Quevedo of Cotabato has also had his name used in "text scam" asking for funds supposedly for a medical procedure and medication for him.

"There is no truth in this," read a statement from the diocese.

It advised Catholics to refrain from giving any money if they receive such a request.

The diocese said it is already trying to trace the source of the message with the help of experts and the authorities.

Bohol Bishop Alberto Uy of Tagbilaran, meanwhile, said a "solicitation letter" using his name has also been circulating on social media, supposedly asking for money for a girl in Sierra Leone.

"May I respectfully inform and warn you against this deception which seeks to swindle church institutions by fraudulently using the name of church authorities to solicit funds," added Bishop Uy.

He said the official email address of Tagbilaran Diocese has been hacked.

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