Online scammers target Filipino Catholic bishops

Cardinal warns church leaders to be wary of fraudsters after fake letter circulates asking for money for African child
Online scammers target Filipino Catholic bishops

At least 67 million out of the 107 million Filipinos — or 62.6 percent of the total population — are reported to have been social media savvy and have been using the internet despite its slow speed. (ucanews.com file photo)

At least two Catholic bishops have issued a warning against scammers following the circulation of "solicitation letters" online supposedly coming from the prelates.

Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato and Bishop Alberto Uy of Tagbilaran said the official email addresses of their respective dioceses have been hacked.

Solicitation letters using the names of the bishops have been sent out asking for money for a girl in Sierra Leone who is supposed to be suffering from renal failure.

The online letter reads as follows:

How are you? I was privileged to be engaged in a charity program going on in Asia and Africa at large. Our motive is to assist the needy and the less privileged children. I'm pleading with you, if you are propelled/touched to help save this innocent child from Sierra Leone who has been diagnosed of renal kidney failure (picture attached).

This little baby Mary Ottawa has been scheduled for surgery on 5th of December 2018. However the total estimated cost for the transplant is $21,500 USD but we have realized the sum of $10,500, with $11,000 remaining as balance. Please little Mary needs help and prayers from we all as whatever that is donated towards the successful surgery of this child would be highly appreciated. Let me know if you can complete the balance payment for the surgery to commence or to render help to the best of your strength.

Much love and prayers.

"I would like to warn you of this scam," said Cardinal Quevedo. The prelate said it was not the first time that his name has been used for fraudulent purposes.

The cardinal reminded Catholics to verify letters that are asking for money, especially if it comes from social media.

He also warned fellow church leaders to be wary of scammers who use the name of the church and its leaders.

"It is very depressing to note that the e-mail address ... has been hacked," said Bishop Uy in his statement.

The Tagbilaran prelate said some people are using "deception which seeks to swindle church institutions by fraudulently using the name of church authorities to solicit funds."

"All concerned are encouraged to use maximum prudence in respect to requests for information or money, through the internet or other media," said Bishop Uy.

In June this year, Philippine police arrested 490 people for allegedly taking part in a multimillion-dollar fraudulent trading operation.

According to the authorities at least 1,210 online scam cases have been investigated since 2015.

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The National Police said that with the increasing number of internet users there has also been an increase in cyber criminals committing illegal online activities.

At least 67 million out of the 104 million Filipinos — or 63 percent of the total population — are reported to have been social media savvy and have been using the internet despite its slow speed.

In the Internet World Stats' ranking released in June, the Philippines ranked 15th — or three notches lower — last year, when it still had 54 million internet users or a "penetration rate of 52 percent" of the populace.

Cardinal Quevedo said to make sure that any appeal for help in his name should be verified through his office or ask for any of the priest to verify whether it is true or not.

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