BUTTE – Butte police say a scammer sent text messages to people pretending to be a prominent priest in the Butte community, asking them to donate iTunes gift cards to children with cancer. But it was just a way to con people out of money.
“Asking the people to go buy an iTunes card, take a photo of it and text that pin number back to them,” said Butte Undersheriff George Skuletich.
The scammer claimed to be Butte parish priest Father Patrick Beretta in an effort to fool people.
“Using a well-known person in this community who has done several fundraisers, who is big in the Catholic charities and people say, ‘Oh it’s coming from Father Beretta, it must be real,’” Skuletich said.
Father Beretta was alerted to this scam earlier this week when one of his parishioners received the phone text claiming to be him.
“She’s smart enough to know there was something off about the request, you know, so she called me to make sure it was authentic and of course I told her it was not,” said Beretta.
Father Beretta said he often ministers to people going through cancer treatment, so he found it disheartening that someone would use this serious issue to try to scam people.
“Using the generosity of people, the goodness of people in this community, and the tenderness and soft spot we have in our hearts for young cancer patients, I think there was something very disgraceful about that, something very despicable,” said Beretta.
Beretta added he does not solicit money for charity over the phone or text.
The case remains under investigation.
Reporting by John Emeigh for MTN News