Email scam robs $793K from church, halts building construction

Over $793,000 was robbed from North Carolina’s Elkin Valley Baptist Church via an email scam. The scammers assumed the identity of Landmark Construction and Development, the company which the church had hired to construct their new place of worship. After the church received an email from Landmark Construction, which contained a payment invoice, the scammers immediately sent a replica of the email. The associate pastor of the church, Stephen Robbins, said that the real and the fake emails were identical and the latter even contained Landmark’s previous emails in the thread and the company’s logos in proper placement. The situation is currently being investigated by the FBI. The stolen money has not yet been recovered.

Church Leaders reports:

An FBI investigation is underway after more than $793,000 was stolen from Elkin Valley Baptist Church in North Carolina via an email phishing scam. The scammers posed as Landmark Construction and Development, a builder the church had contracted to construct their new worship center.

The scam email was sent to the church on a Friday in November, when the office was closed. Landmark Construction had sent an email with a payment invoice, immediately after which the scammers sent a nearly identical email.

When the church office staff arrived on Monday, they followed the prompts of the second email, wiring the funds as instructed. It was only after Landmark called the church several days later asking why they had yet to pay the invoice that the church realized they had been scammed.

Stephen Robbins, the church’s associate pastor, told the Elkin Tribune that the differences between the two emails were imperceptible, the latter of which replicated the placement of the company’s logos and even the previous emails in the thread.

Investigators have not released any information regarding how scammers were able to compromise the church’s email to create such a convincing replica.

The funds have yet to be recovered.

The building project, the funds of which had been raised over the course of six years, was the culmination of a decade-long vision to build a gathering space with sufficient room for Elkin Valley Baptist Church’s growing needs.

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