Please do not reply to, send gift cards or money to any priest or deacon who requests you to help them “privately” because they are inconveniently not in the office, out of town or too busy to speak on the phone.
These are scam artists who are just trying to get you to “help” your parish priest in a hurry. You should call the parish office and either speak with the person making the request or leave a message to have them return your call if you want to be absolutely sure that it is legitimate.
We can tell you that these e-mails have been circulating for years and often well meaning parishioners fall victim to the scams.
None of the priests will request money or gift cards by e-mail. The priest/deacon will never ask a parishioner to help “surprise” the staff or other parishioners with a gift. Always contact the parish before replying to any of these messages.
One of the most recent fraud e-mail addresses is email@example.com.