Warning: Scammers use bishops’ names to prey on victims

Warning: Scammers use bishops’ names to prey on victims

Bishop Jose Collin Bagaforo of Kidapawan. FILE PHOTO

By Rommel F. Lopez

January 14, 2020

Manila, Philippines

A bishop has raised the alarm against scammers who have duped people by using the names of bishops without their consent for a bogus project to repair churches damaged by natural calamities.

Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo of Kidapawan posted on his Facebook account about how scammers used his name and other bishops in soliciting donations through bank deposits.

He said the scammers asked for money through text messages from victims to supposedly finance the repair of church structures damaged by recent earthquakes in Mindanao and the purchase of sacred vessels like monstrances or tabernacles to replace those that were allegedly stolen.

The bishop said the scammers’ bank accounts bore the titles “Sister” and “Father” to make it appear that they are legitimate members of religious communities or the clergy.

He said the scammers’ bank accounts used the names “Fr. Allen Albert Lagura” and “Sister Doris Dee Pamplona,” none of whom are known to Bagaforo.

The Manila archdiocese earlier warned against Lagura who had been asking for donations for an alleged farewell party for Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, before assuming his new role as prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of the Peoples in the Rome.

Fr. Reginald Malicdem, the archdiocese’s chancellor, clarified that Lagura is not a member of the clergy and there were no such party organized and no gifts to be given for the cardinal.

Bagaforo, who is also the chairman of the bishops’ National Secretariat for Social Action, said that whenever the bishops ask for donations, the bank account used to receive the cash donations are always in the name of their diocese.

Moreover, whenever the CBCP makes an official donation appeal, the bank account mentioned in the appeal is clearly in the name of the CBCP.

“Whenever the CBCP asks for help, it is always clear. The bank account is in the name of either the CBCP NASSA or the diocese. Kaya careful mga donors. Always check. Talk to your bishops to confirm, ” he said.

He said the names of Bishops Guillermo Afable of Digos, Dennis Villarojo of Malolos and Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, the archbishop emeritus of Cotabato, had been used by the scammers in asking for donations.

“I’m afraid these scammers might take advantage of Taal’s situation, “ Bagaforo added.

He lamented that two of his friends had been scammed with huge amounts of money.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) also called on the public to be vigilant against solicitations for “bogus” projects and charitable causes.

“We urge everyone to be vigilant and to take much precaution by double-checking with the bishop concerned or his office/chancery if such request happens,” said Fr. Marvin Mejia, CBCP Secretary General.