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Man wants to warn others not to fall for email scam

Posted at 11:17 PM, Apr 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-10 23:17:34-04

INDIANAPOLIS — A fraudster is posing as a religious leader people trust and preying on the kindness of others, and a victim of the online scam wants to warn others to not fall for the online scam.

Jerry Ortner received an email at work from a Gmail account claiming to be the pastor at his church, St. Christopher Catholic.

"It was in Father Paul's name, our pastor," Ortner said.

It's uncertain how the sender got Ortner's email address or knew who is pastor is, but what is clear is what they wanted.

"He was requesting a gift card for a friend of his," Ortner said. "He was in the hospital recovering from cancer."

A devout Catholic, Ortner didn't think twice about the request for charity. He stopped at Meijer and purchased two $50 gift cards for Google Play music.

"To me, it seemed weird that a pastor would ask for that," Audriana Flores said.

Flores, who works at Ortner's office, helped him send photos of the redemption cards.

"It sounded like a scam, but the way he was saying it was that he knew the pastor and that he knew what was going on," Flores said.

It wasn't until the sender demanded more money that Ortner realized he'd been scammed out of $100.

The actual Father Paul Shikany said as many as 10 parishioners have contacted him about bogus email. He is working with the tech team to secure parishioners' information.

The Archdiocese of Indianapolis said it's aware of the email gift card scam and that no pastor would ever send an email asking for gift cards in this manner. If you get one, ignore it and report it to police.

"I'm a firm believer that there are consequences, if not in this life then in the next life," Ortner said. "And I think he will get his just desserts."

Ortner said he plans to follow up with police in the morning so they can hopefully catch the thief.