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Police: Pastors In Tarrant County Victims Of Scam

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A statue portraying Jesus Christ is carried by Catholic devotees taking part in the Jesus of Nazareth Merced procession during Holy Week in Guatemala City on April 3, 2012. (credit: JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – Several pastors in Tarrant County say they’re victims of a scam in which a man uses a hard-luck story to convince people to give him money with the promise of repaying it with cash from his mother’s will, police said.

Authorities believe the man has targeted 10 churches in the Tarrant County area and that the scam might date back to 2005, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

Police believe the man has stolen about $5,000 from victims.

Pastors in Tarrant County are claiming to be victims of a scam artist. (credit: CBS 11 Art Dept.)

Pastors in Tarrant County are claiming to be victims of a scam artist. (credit: CBS 11 Art Dept.)

“A lot of the people meeting with him and giving him money are pastors,” said Fort Worth police detective A.L. Fincher. “They’re more likely to want to believe in the good of people and want to help people.”

Police have identified the suspect — described as a white male in his early 60s with a criminal history that includes fraud — but have not released his name. Fincher said investigators are looking for more victims before arresting him.

Investigators said that in the scam, a man identifying himself as Wichita Falls attorney Dan Reed calls a church and tells employees that he is representing a man, Larry Wainwright, whose mother has died and left money to the church in her will.

The attorney tells church employees that Wainwright has cancer and cannot afford his medication or other expenses.

Employees were encouraged to call Wainwright and lend him money until the will can be probated and the money repaid.

“Every victim we’ve talked to said, `We normally will not give people cash but because his story was so compelling, we decided to go ahead and give him the cash,”‘ Fincher said.

Police believe only one suspect with multiple phones was behind all the phone calls.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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