Email scam targets church officials, North Yorkshire police warn

Police are warning residents to be vigilant for an email scam in which the sender claims to be the local reverend and asks the recipient to purchase high value Amazon gift cards on their behalf.

By Steve Bambridge
Sunday, 23rd August 2020, 7:42 am
Updated Sunday, 23rd August 2020, 8:24 am

Church wardens, treasurers and volunteers have been targeted, with some emails claiming to be from the Archbishop of York. The initial email follows a standard format and reads:

“Do you have a moment I have a request I need you to handle discreetly. I am currently busy in a prayer session, no calls so just reply my email.”

Then, if the recipient enters into a dialogue they will be asked to purchase Amazon gift cards as ‘thank you’ presents for members of the church family.


The scammer provides reassurances that the money will be reimbursed and asks the individual to send photos of the gift cards or vouchers which allows them to collect the unique codes and use the cards to make online purchases.

Individuals who work or volunteer for churches in the Diocese of York have been targeted, with one church office holder purchasing gift cards but thankfully realising this was a scam before it was too late.

Residents are being urged to check the sender email address of any emails appearing to be from a reverend or other church representative and not to make any purchases based on email correspondence received.

Anyone receiving these emails should report it to North Yorkshire Police by calling 101.

A message from the editor

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news on this free-to-read site, I am asking you to also please purchase a copy of our newspaper.

Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the highest standards in the world. The dramatic events of 2020 are having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers and consequently the advertising that we receive. We are now more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news by buying a copy of our newspaper.

Thank you

Jean MacQuarrie