Update on the current “phishing” scam circulating the Church

It has come to our attention that some Church members have been caught out by a current ‘phishing’ scam requesting urgent monetary payments. The Uniting Church is not the only organisation being caught out by these emails and perpetrators are targeting benevolent and not for profit organisations.

We are working with fraud investigators to identify, freeze and close down accounts that are being used to facilitate funds being transferred offshore. We are appealing to members to be vigilant and reject any suspicious emails.

Please understand that scams like this come from the actions of criminals who target many innocent people in our society.  They do not originate within the Church, nor are they the result of any fault or problem with UFS systems. Nevertheless, UFS is working with the rest of the Synod to assist our partners across the Church to avoid being caught by this scam and to prevent it from continuing to happen.

How to recognise a ‘phishing’ email

  • The language in the email will appear different or in broken English, or may ask for money in AUD rather than having the dollar sign ($) in front. (This is so the scam can be repeated in other countries that use different currencies.)
  • If the name on the email is a name you recognise, like your Minister, please call them to verify the request is genuine.
  • These emails generally seem to arrive without an invoice and require ‘urgent’ attention. Do not, in any instance action a request without an authorised invoice.
  • If the email comes from a trusted associate (this is how “phishing” emails work), further investigation of the email will reveal that the ‘reply to’ email isn’t theirs.
  • Do not engage the sender of the email in a conversation or give any personal or bank account details to them.
  • If repeated emails appear to ‘action’ the request urgently, ignore them and delete them from your inbox.

What to do next

If you have received emails of this type, please report the matter immediately to the Police Assistance Hotline on 131444 then report the crime on the ACORN website.

If you have any questions about the email or would like some advice, email contactus@nswact.uca.org.au and we will be able to assist you. Alternatively, if you have any questions about the protocols around online transactions, contact the Uniting Financial Services Partnership Team on 1300 133 673.

Places to visit for more information about email scams

ScamWatch – a useful website that outlines some of the elaborate ways people can be caught in these scams

Acorn – A Government initiative that has the ability to report cyber crime.