This year, emails falsely claiming to be from General Presbyter Ed Thompson have increased in frequency. These emails, called spoofs, are a favorite trick of scammers since they appear to come from someone you know and trust.
These emails will generally show some variation of Ed’s name as the sender, but the attached email address is not his official wvpresbytery.org address. Instead, it is an account from a free domain (almost always Gmail) that he does not own or have access to. If you receive any of these emails/they are not redirected to your spam folder, one way to check if they are legitimate is to look at the email address in the brackets following his name in the From section. If it is from wvpresbytery.org, that is his official account; if it comes from Gmail, Yahoo, or elsewhere, it is not from him, so delete it.
These emails will generally be one of the following requests:
• The person will ask if you can handle a quick and/or discreet request for them.
• The person will ask you to purchase gift cards on their behalf with the promise of reimbursement.
• The person will say they are on a trip, have had their money/documents stolen, and are asking for help.
They will also likely have typos/grammatical errors and indicate some level of urgency, such as that the person is in or heading into a meeting and needs help ASAP.
If you receive a suspicious email claiming to be from Ed (or, really, anyone from the Presbytery), do not respond. If you are concerned by the email, you can forward it to the alleged sender, and they can reply to verify whether or not it is an authentic request.
Also, never send anything of value in response to an email request for money or gift cards. And know that if the alleged sender is truly in trouble or needs assistance, they will make contact by phone or from their official email account.
The most important thing you can do is be cautious. Be on guard against emails from suspicious addresses that request private/personal information, invite you to click on links or open attachments, or ask you to make a purchase.
Neither Ed nor anyone else on the Presbytery staff will ever ask you for your banking information, credit card numbers, or other private information. We will not ask you for a “favor” that requires a cash, credit card, or debit card expenditure.
Apologies for any inconvenience this has caused. We appreciate your help in reporting these fake emails.