Bishop's fears as conmen target priests

A SENIOR bishop has voiced his dismay that priests are being targeted by fraudsters using "emotional blackmail" to persuade them to part with money for bogus good causes.

A SENIOR bishop has voiced his dismay that priests are being targeted by fraudsters using "emotional blackmail" to persuade them to part with money for bogus good causes.

One retired priest in Suffolk has already sent a cheque after being approached for money to support educational courses in east Africa.

The clergyman was later contacted by his bank asking him to authorise the transfer of £2,000 to a foreign account.

The diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich has now alerted more than 400 priests and church leaders to the potential con and is urging them only to donate to recognised charities.


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The Rt Rev Richard Lewis, bishop of the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich diocese, said: "It is saddening that fraudsters are using the emotional blackmail of education to target the clergy. 

"Education and training are essential tools for countries in the developing world to build better futures for their populations. 

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"Consequently, it distressing that real cases of need will lose credibility and support, because of the heartless action of the criminals involved in these scams."

Nick Clarke, spokesman for the diocese and director of communications, said: "Clergy across the county have been receiving letters, mostly photocopied, apparently coming from students in Uganda, appealing for money to complete educational courses.

"We have no way of authenticating these. However a retired priest in Suffolk sent a cheque. It was not cashed, but later he had a call from his bank asking him to authorise the transfer of £2,000 to a foreign account. 

"I have alerted all our clergy to the apparent scam, with the advice to only make donations to recognised charities.''

A spokesman for Suffolk Constabulary said they and trading standards are contacted about such problems fairly regularly.

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