Apparent scammer uses pastor's voice in attempt to get money
Lois Prater took a call Friday from someone trying to scam money out of her.
1/22/2013 6:01:00 AM
By Ahron Sherman
Just when you think scammers can't get any lower, they do.
Lois Prater, who's nearly 90 years old and lives in Kingman, received a phone call Friday that shook her up. Around noon, the phone rang and Prater picked up. A woman on the other end of the line asked if she was speaking to Lois Prater.
When Prater said yes, the woman said she had someone who wanted to talk to her.
"She put on a tape," Prater said. "It sounded like Pastor Norm."
Prater is a member for the Hilltop Foursquare Church, and the pastor of her church is named Norm Taylor.
The recorded voice, which sounded like Taylor, asked for money to help save the church and his home.
"He went on and on about needing money," Prater said. "But I felt like something suspicious was going on."
When the recording ended, it sounded as if the woman who made the call was about to get back on the line. But Prater didn't wait around to find out.
"I hung up the phone and took it off the hook so she couldn't call me back," Prater said.
Prater was torn. On one hand, she worried that her pastor was in trouble, but on the other hand, she didn't know if what she was hearing was true.
"Surely, Norm would call me himself if he needed help," she said. "But I didn't know what to do because something like this has never happened to me before."
People she talked to about the incident told her they thought someone was trying to scam her. And when she spoke to Taylor a few days later, he informed her that he had not called her.
"It's kind of sad someone would do something like that," Taylor said.
As of Monday, police had not been informed. But Taylor was considering making a call because the connection between Prater and the church would be hard to establish without having access to its directory.
There's a brief mention of Prater on the Internet, but it has nothing to do with the church.
Local law enforcement advises people who think they're being scammed to report it. There is often little law enforcement can do with many of these cases because they frequently originate in other countries, but when they do originate locally the police cannot help if people do not report it.
Also, local law enforcement recommends you validate that the person or people asking for money over the phone are actually who they say they are. Never run out and send money to people even if they say they're a family member or your pastor.
Confirm everything, which can be as simple as hanging up and calling the person back.