True Confessions of an Interim

May 23, 2024

By The Rev. Dr. Carl Grosse

Now that the fake Pastor Carl debacle is (mostly) behind us, I want to reiterate key coaching points. First, “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). Check email addresses and phone numbers, because bad actors can use any email address or phone number and associate it with a familiar name. As many of you did, contact the supposed person or business directly to verify. 

Get to know people. The church scam has been around a long time and uses the same wording:
I need your help now. I’m in a meeting and can’t answer the phone. Beware of pressure!
Peace & Blessings. I NEVER talk or write like that! My most common tag is “Thanks!”
Pastor Carl Grosse OR Rev. Dr. Carl Groose Really?! If it’s a text, I usually don’t sign my name at all; if I do, it’s just Carl or maybe Pastor Carl. Beware of typos and bad grammar!

If you get the follow-up scam message, it’s something like this:
I just need gift cards today for some women going through cancer at the hospital but I can’t do that right now cause of my busy schedule. Nope. This is all kinds of bad, and I think there might be a special place in hell for the people using this tactic. A real pastor is not too busy to minister to actual cancer patients. A real pastor will use names of patients because you probably know them too and want to pray for them. Why would cancer patients need gift cards? In my experience, they ask for prayers more than anything. Next in line is visits from family & friends. Never have I heard of any cancer patients wanting gift cards. 

DO NOT RESPOND if you aren’t 100% sure. You’re okay deleting or ignoring anything you regard as suspicious. I’ve had people ignore my Minnesota phone number because they didn’t recognize it, and I’m fine with that. Either I’ll try again shortly or use the church phone. Just delete suspicious stuff!

Finally, there’s an upside to this. Your urge to help seemed to be related to what we’ve been going through as a church family. We’ve had some hard losses lately, and I’ve been privileged to work through them with you. I didn’t connect the dots between your vulnerability to this scam and the tenderness and compassion you’re feeling for each other. I’m so sorry there are people who exploit others this way, but I’m also blessed by your genuine love for each other. Your new vision statement is spot on, you truly are a loving and caring family for all who hunger and thirst for the kind of world Jesus made possible!