Fairly often, e-mails that seek to impersonate leadership in the future Tennessee Western Kentucky Conference are being sent to you. The messages appear, at a quick glance, to be from Bishop McAlilly or another conference leader. They are not.
These messages are sent from very strategic fake accounts. For example, two imposter accounts used that make it appear to be from the bishop are: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. You will note how they include components that make you believe they are real, but they are from G-Mail, not the NashAreaUMC.org server that is used by the Episcopal Office.
We have unfortunately seen the same kinds of messages that attempt to falsely represent conference staff, other bishops, local church pastors, and even lay leadership.
Recently, similar texting scams also have been reported to us. The bishop – and other conference leaders will NOT text you to request that you purchase gift cards! Just delete those false text messages.
The good news here is that our systems remain safe and the accounts have not actually been “hacked.” Unfortunately, these impersonations are not something we can stop. All we can do is ask you to be vigilant.
Some ways that you can help include:
- Remember that e-mail communications from the Nashville Area Episcopal Office will come from an email address ending in @NashAreaUMC.org
- Remember that communications from the Tennessee or Memphis Conference will come from an email address ending in @tnumc.org/.com or @memphis-umc.org
- Always double-check the actual email address – not just the display name/label. It is especially easy to be fooled when using a mobile device for e-mail as the display name frequently hides the actual address, you must tap on it to reveal the actual address.
- Know that efforts to fund ministry will not come through requests for gift cards.
- Know that e-mails and texts that indicate someone cannot talk by phone are likely making an effort to discourage you from taking steps that will help you confirm that they are a scam.
- Share this knowledge with your circles to increase awareness of these fake e-mails or texts coming from nefarious actors.
- When in doubt you can always forward a suspicious message “from the bishop” to H.G. Stovall in the Episcopal Office at email@example.com or to someone in leadership such as a committee chair with whom you relate, your District Administrator, etc.