School in Port Washington scammed out of $510,000

NOW: School in Port Washington scammed out of $510,000

PORT WASHINGTON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- St. John XXIII Catholic School in Port Washington was scammed out of $510,000 dollars.

“It’s awful,” Amy Grau, Archdiocese of Milwaukee Communications Director, said.

The school is being expanded, and the scammer pretended to be the contractor.

“A fake representative with the contractor started to build a relationship with the people involved in the capital campaign,” Grau said. “This included both email and phone messaging.”

Then the scammer asked for payment, and the school believing it was the actual contractor, sent it over.

Despite the loss, the expansion project at the school is continuing and is still on track to be done this fall.

“There are so many people involved in funding this project,” Grau said. “It’s so disheartening that something like this would take place.”

The BBB says they are seeing more scams targeting churches in our area.

“Unfortunately these are becoming very very common occurrences,” Jim Temmer, Wisconsin Better Business Bureau (BBB) President and CEO said.

Over the last few months, a scammer pretending to be a Milwaukee priest has been contacting parishioners asking for gift card donations, and Seton Catholic Schools is the victim of an email scam that cost them $38,000.

“I think they are looking at people that are trusting, who they think they can build a good relationship with and take advantage of them,” Temmer said. “It’s a downright dirty shame.”

To avoid becoming the next victim the BBB says companies should pay with checks instead of wire transfers because checks can be tracked. Before sending large payments, the BBB says businesses should double check they are sending to the actual person by calling to verify.

“There should be a policy in place on some second step of authorization,” Temmer said.

The BBB has a free online tool where you can track the scams in your area.

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