'Preying on Prayers' - Potential Scam Targeting Religious Locals

Published 05/02 2014 06:15PM

Updated 05/02 2014 06:25PM

by Victoria Price

LUBBOCK, -- Some Lubbock residents have been the recipients of letters from a ministry called "Saint Matthews Churches." The letters ask for "prayers" and "seed offerings," but a local pastor says it's nothing more than a scam for your money.

"Scam. Oh yeah," Pastor Jim Gerlt, of Bacon Heights Baptist says while leafing through the packet. "It turns my stomach, that people are preying upon the weakness, or the hope, or the desperation that some folks have."

Inside that packet were prayers, bible verses, and testimonials. But the most curious was the self-addressed envelope, asking for "seed offerings to the Lord."

"You don't have any contact with these folks," Gerlt says. "It's just a check in the mail and a hope and a prayer."

The address on the envelope is a P.O. box in Tulsa. But, the Saint Matthews website explicitly says their church is in Houston, and that they have no locations at all in Oklahoma.

"Why on earth would an attorney have them send their seed faith offerings anywhere other than the church?" Gerlt asks, exasperated.

When you call their listed Tulsa number, it's impossible to get a person on the line. All you get is a pre-recorded audio message. The Better Business Bureau of Tulsa says that Saint Matthews is not an accredited charity in their registry. But, they say they also don't have enough information to determine if this is truly a scam.

Even so, Gerlt says if you get one of these envelopes...toss it.

"Burn it," he laughs. "Shred it, throw it away, and go wash your hands."

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