Scam artist poses as Baton Rouge pastor with 'spoof emails'

Scam artist poses as Baton Rouge pastor with 'spoof emails'

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A Catholic pastor in South Baton Rouge is warning parishioners of "spoof emails" from someone posing as him and asking for money.

Fr. Mike Schatzle of St. George Church released an official email Thursday warning parishioners about the scam. Schatzle said someone took his identity and sent the emails at random.

A detective with the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office said the emails tended to begin each time Fr. Schatzle goes out of town. Sometimes, his trips were posted on the church website and other times an email was sent out saying that he was out of town.

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The emails make up stories about him needing financial assistance. One of the stories included him needing help in sending a birthday present to his niece.

A similar scam situation happened at a Catholic church in St. Petersburg. That scam also involved scammers posing as parish priests and making requests.

The detective said staff members with the church had been receiving the spoof emails for several months.

"I want to assure everyone that I would NEVER send an email to anyone asking for donations or financial help in any way," Schatzle wrote in the official email. "I can also assure you that Fr. Paul, our deacons, or members of our Church Staff would never do such a thing."

Schatzle said anyone who receives the scam email should not send money as well as not respond to it.

The detective said, so far, no one has given money because of the emails.

The pastor recommends anyone who might have received the email to call the church. Church staff will be able to confirm that the questioned email is fake,he added.

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