by Father Mark Goldasich
The first one dinged at 3:54 p.m.
“Did you just text me?” asked a parishioner.
I texted back: “No, it wasn’t me.”
Then, the phone rang. Next, a text came in from another parishioner. Finally, I got an email from the parish: People were calling, asking the same question: Had I just texted them?
Reporter Joe Bollig’s words from an April 5, 2019, Leaven article came to mind: “Watch out, because you might be next.” I was. Someone was scamming my parishioners with a text, supposedly from me.
Here’s what it said:
“I need a favor from you (parishioner’s name), there is something I need you to do. I am going into a meeting now with limited phone calls, text me back as soon as you get this Message.
“Rev. Fr. Mark Goldasich”
OK, so a parishioner replies and then gets this message:
“Good to hear from you (parishioner’s name), i need to get some gift cards for a friend of mine going through cancer in the hospital. She needs the cards to download her favorite songs and videos to boost her confidence on her next phase of surgery and fight over cancer which she will undergo today but i can’t do this now. Can you get the gift cards from any store around you and send the pictures to her email? I will pay back as soon as i can.
“May The Lord Be With You”
To my knowledge, no one who got this scam text followed through with the “request,” as it was something absolutely out of character for me. I’m glad that alarm bells went off for parishioners who got these fake texts.
My advice to the scammer: Just don’t do this . . . to anyone . . . ever again. And especially don’t do this to an editor, who is going to correct your many grammatical mistakes:
- Be sure to put a comma after “I need a favor from you” and before the parishioner’s name. Also, put a period after the name, as it’s the end of a sentence.
- Capitalize the “t” in “there” as it’s a new sentence.
- In the next sentence, use either a semicolon after “phone calls” or a period if you intend to make “text me back as soon as you get this Message” a new sentence. And, by the way, don’t capitalize the “m” in message.
- If you’re going to use the title “Rev.,” it should be preceded by the word “the.” Also, it’s dated to use “Rev.” and “Fr.” together. And please, never abbreviate Father as “Fr.” Then ask yourself why, if the recipient knew me, I’d sign the text in such a formal way with my full name.
- Now, regarding the first sentence in the responding text, refer to No. 1.
- Be sure to capitalize “I” throughout your response.
- Just FYI: HIPAA laws would prevent me from revealing why a patient is in the hospital, let alone their gender.
- I’d suggest using “lift her spirits” rather than “boost her confidence” since she’s battling a disease, not going in for a job interview.
- People don’t “fight over” cancer — it’s not an argument. They just fight it. And that sentence is rambling and a grammatical nightmare. End it after “spirits” (see above) and delete through “today.” Start a new sentence with “But I can’t do this now.”
- Be much more polite, too. Don’t say: “Can you get the gift cards?” Try: “Would you have time to please buy . . .”
- When suggesting sending pictures of the cards to an email address, it’s recommended to actually include that address in your text.
- Also, say: “I will pay YOU back.”
- Lastly, your conclusion — “May the Lord . . .” — is a complete sentence, so no need to capitalize all the words. And please end with a period.
Other than these minor points, Scammer, your texts were flawless and utterly convincing.
By the way, if this is your day job, please quit.
Then go buy some gift cards for someone in a hospital near you.