CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's office is warning of a pay-for-prayer scam targeting West Virginia consumers.
According to Morrisey's office, the people perpetrating the scam have been known to utilize robocalls, websites and unsolicited email to exploit the consumer’s desire for prayer. The scheme typically involves a donation in exchange for prayer.
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division recently learned of consumers receiving such calls from the “St. Mary’s Prayer Center Ministry,” an entity having no connection to the similarly named St. Mary’s Medical Center located in Huntington.
“West Virginians should always remember to exercise caution when receiving unfamiliar and unsolicited calls,” Morrisey said. “Consumers must know the voice and/or entity on the other end and know what they are committing to beforehand.”
The AG's office urges anyone receiving such a call to simply hang up. Choosing to select one of the prompts can subject the consumer to receiving additional calls.
Other tips include the following:
* Do not answer an unrecognized number. Spoofing technology allows scam artists to misrepresent their true location by calling from what appears to be a local number.
* Never give away financial or personal information without verifying the recipient.
* Verify the legitimacy of a charity or organization by reviewing the Secretary of State’s website to see if it is registered to solicit donations in West Virginia. Other research can be found on websites such as charitynavigator.org orguidestar.org.
* Double check with the legitimate agency to verify its existence and that it is asking for information.
Consumers with questions are asked to contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808, the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239 or visit the office online at www.wvago.gov.