Cops warn hotels over priest scam

Police in Derry are warning local hotels and B&Bs to be wary of a scam involving a group of fictitious foreign priests.

A PSNI spokeswoman says the scam - which involves a request for a block accommodation booking for the ‘newly ordained priests’ - has been used in recent weeks in an attempt to con a local business out of £5,000.

Under the scam, conmen make a payment from a stolen credit card but then request that some of it is subsequently deposited into a third party account.

Police say in this instance the scamsters requested a deduction for translator services.

“The client offered to pay using a credit card and then asked the proprietor to deduct £5,000 for interpreter services and transfer that to another account,” the PSNI spokeswoman says.

“Fortunately the business owner refused otherwise he may have found himself liable for the funds.”

The PSNI spokeswoman says police are now warning anyone in the hotel/bed and breakfast trade to be wary of similar calls.

“In no circumstances should businesses offer to carry out transactions on behalf of someone else. A legitimate business will not ask you to do this.

“If you have concerns or have been approached in similar circumstances please contact your local police station immediately,” she says.

The fake priest con, a variant of the 419 scam or advance fee fraud, has been known about since the 1980s.

It has become even more widely circulated since the advent of the internet.