Have you ever received a suspicious email from someone posing as your pastor or District Superintendent? Email Spoofing is the creation and sending of email messages using a fake or fabricated email address. These email senders pose as a specific person or entity and request information or action from the recipient.

Email spoofing is not new, and churches/church entities are susceptible due to the nature of their work and mission. These emails pose as the pastor, ask church members for help, and then when the church member replies, the spoofer asks for personal information, or gift card purchases, or money.

Today, for example, many leaders in the Alexandria district received an email claiming to be from Alexandria District Superintendent Jeff Mickle and sent via a gmail address. The email asked recipients for help with a confidential matter.

How to spot a spoof email:

The first thing to do is check the email address of the sender. All emails from the District will come from an email address that ends in @vaumc.org.

Additionally, neither no one from the district staff will ever personally ask you to send them money or gift cards via email or text message.

Finally, paying attention to capitalization and punctuation within an email can help you discern a fake or spoofed email, as those tend to contain punctuation errors, odd capitalizations, and unclear sentence structure. If it doesn’t sound like it usually does, chances are it’s not from who you think it is.

If you have any concerns about whether an email you’ve received from the District is authentic, please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask.