So here’s the oddly-worded e-mail I received this morning:
From: Rev Canon Chris Ford <email@example.com>
Subject: Booking you for a speaking engagement!!!
Blessings to you from Brian, I am Canon Chris Ford, presiding Rev of the St Mary the Virgin Davyhulme,Urmston,United Kingdom. We are pleased to inform you that we would like to engage you for a speaking event here in Urmston, London at the Church conference coming up on the 17th, 18th & 19th of Jan 2020. The conference is tagged: ‘Big things: How to start small’.
Please we would like you to convey to us your availability for one of the dates as it can fit in your schedule.
Also, please we would as well appreciate if you get back in-touch with us in ample time so we can start corresponding the details.
Thank you and expecting to hear from you soon.
-Rev Canon Chris Ford
St Mary The Virgin
13 Vicarage Rd,
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
1 Peter 2:9
Too good to be true? I did some Googling. Yes, there is a church called St. Mary the Virgin in Urmston, but Urmston is in Manchester, not London, as stated in the body of the message.
And yes, St. Mary’s vicar is Canon Chris Ford, but he doesn’t use a g-mail address. As for the alleged upcoming conference, it’s not listed in the church’s calendar for January.
I did some more Googling, using as keywords the theme of the alleged conference: “Big Things: How to Start Small.” I received several hits, all with the word “scam” in the subject line. You can see some of them HERE and HERE and HERE.
I was about to alert Canon Ford that his name and that of his church were being used for fraudulent purposes, but when I went back the St. Mary’s website I saw that the church now knows about it, and that a warning has been posted prominently on the church’s home page. This latest version of a long-running scam apparently just started today.