Diocese of Brooklyn warns several Queens parishes have been targeted by telephone scammers

The exterior of St. Rose of Lima Church in Rockaway Beach
Photo via Google Maps

In this day and age, not even Queens church ladies are safe from telephone scams.

The Diocese of Brooklyn is warning that parishioners and employees of several Queens parishes have been receiving text messages from a scammer posing as local pastors and even Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and thousands of dollars have been sent by those who have fallen victim.

Rockaway’s Annette Clark, a catechist and maker of rosary beads at St. Rose of Lima, recently received a text message.

“It says, ‘Hi Annette, I need you to do me a favor,’ which is not unusual,” Clark recalled.

The number had a 929 area code and said it was from Father James Kuroly, the Pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church.

“That was from a number that she did not recognize but it had my name on it asking for gift cards for cancer patients,” Kuroly said.

The text message instructed Clark to purchase $300 worth of gift cards.

“And I need you to scratch the back of the cards to reveal the PIN code then take a snapshot of the codes and have the picture sent to me,” the message read. “Let me know as soon as it’s done so we can discuss. Don’t forget to say some prayers for him.”

Clark set off to fulfill the pastor’s request and was one her way to the Rite Aid in Rockaway Park when it dawned on her that she may have been targeted by a scammer.

“I found something strange and I’m looking and I said, ‘Why is Father responding as Father James A. Kuroly,” she recalled. “He would never text me like that.”

Clark saved her money but others have not been so lucky. The Diocese of Brooklyn has warned that other Queens parishes have been targeted including St. Helen in Howard Beach, Incarnation in Queens Village, Our Lady of Perpetual Help in South Ozone Park, and St. Clare in Rosedale.

An official diocesan email was sent to church pastors and administrators making them aware of the scam and the NYPD has been notified and police reports have been filed.