Two Primates of the Anglican Communion have warned unsuspecting followers to be wary of fake Facebook profiles.
The warnings come amid concern that fraudsters are targeting Anglicans by creating false social media profiles and then using them to build up a following before asking for financial assistance or support.
Last month, the Anglican Church in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, reported that "several fraudulent Facebook accounts bearing the name and picture of [Primate] Paul Kwong who claimed to the Bishop of Anglican Diocese of Hong Kong Island" had been created.
The church said that its Archbishop, the Most Revd Dr Paul Kwong, "has no connection with the fraudulent website" and that members of the public should "be alert to internet scams and not to provide any personal information or conduct any financial transactions through the website concerned;" and it urged anybody who had given any personal information or conducted any financial transactions through the fake profiles to report it to the Police.
A similar warning has been issued by the Church of Nigeria. The Revd Canon Ifeanyi Akunna, Secretary to the Primate, the Most Revd Nicholas Okoh, said that "it has come to our knowledge that some unscrupulous persons have faked the identity of the Primate and created imposter Facebook accounts bearing his picture and his name.
"These same people also use these scam Facebook accounts to defraud unsuspecting members of the public by raising money under a pretext to support some charity causes."
He adds: "Please do not subscribe to any of these imposter Facebook accounts. They are a scam. Beware. Do not fall victim".
The Anglican Church of Hong Kong and the Church of Nigeria have both said that their primates do not have a Facebook profile.
The Church of Nigeria said that Archbishop Okoh "does not have any Facebook account and has never been on any Facebook page, including a fan page, or on any social media network."
The Anglican Church of Hong Kong said that its Archbishop "had never set up any Facebook account and had never expressed his views at the Facebook or over the internet." The Church reported the fraudulent accounts to the Facebook on 7th July; but one was still operational yesterday.
Facebook did not respond to enquiries from the Anglican Communion News Service.