Another story that won’t die

As the Christmas season of giving approaches, some e-mail scammers are using the name of the Catholic Church to try to give themselves some credibility.

The “lucky” recipients of these e-mails are told they’ve won $2.5 million or some other extravagant sum from Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Rome. If they’ll just contact the “cash grant program coordinator secretary” and provide some personal information, the money will be on its way.

Sure.

As Catholic Charities USA warned in a news release last week, Catholic Charities agencies “do not and will not distribute unsolicited e-mail requesting this type of information. Please be advised that Catholic Charities USA is in no way associated with or responsible for these messages.”

Here at Catholic News Service, we’ve been alerting readers about this scam since late summer, first with an advisory at the end of August to our client editors and then with a story from Cape Town, South Africa, about the international reach of the bogus story.

For those of us who’ve been around a while, the scam’s staying power brings back memories of another story that wouldn’t die — a report that the Federal Communications Commission was considering a petition brought by atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair to ban religious programming from the airwaves. In truth, the FCC turned down a similar petition in 1975 but that didn’t keep the story from continuing to circulate long after O’Hair’s 1995 death and into the 21st century.

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