FORT WORTH, Texas — Several North Texas pastors have been the victims of a scam in which a man uses a hard-luck story to convince people to give him money with the promise of repaying it with cash from his mother’s will, police said.
Authorities believe the man has targeted 10 churches in the Tarrant County area and that the scam might date back to 2005, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
Police believe the man has stolen about $5,000 from victims.
“A lot of the people meeting with him and giving him money are pastors,” said Fort Worth police detective A.L. Fincher. “They’re more likely to want to believe in the good of people and want to help people.”
Police have identified the suspect — described as a white male in his early 60s with a criminal history that includes fraud — but have not released his name. Fincher said investigators are looking for more victims before arresting him.
Investigators said that in the scam, a man identifying himself as Wichita Falls attorney Dan Reed calls a church and tells employees that he is representing a man, Larry Wainwright, whose mother has died and left money to the church in her will.
The attorney tells church employees that Wainwright has cancer and cannot afford his medication or other expenses.
Employees were encouraged to call Wainwright and lend him money until the will can be probated and the money repaid.
“Every victim we’ve talked to said, ‘We normally will not give people cash but because his story was so compelling, we decided to go ahead and give him the cash,’” Fincher said.
Police believe only one suspect with multiple phones was behind all the phone calls.