Scam Alert: Harrisburg Church Finds Themselves Intertwined in Newspaper Scam

August 24, 2007 - Posted at 9:04 p.m. CDT

HARRISBURG, AR-The House of the Lord is the last place anyone would expect to hear the word Scam.

"I was absolutely surprised. When the guy called, he asked if we had a missionary from our church in Africa. Of course, I told him no we did not," said Pastor Terry Tacker.

The troubles for the Calvary Baptist Church, in Harrisburg, actually started after a classified ad was placed in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

The ad in the paper was trying to sell an English Bulldog for $500. However, the only contact information was an email, that a man in Russellville responded to.

"He found out that this guy had said he was a missionary for Calvary Baptist Church in Harrisburg, AR. He was calling me to verify what that guy had told him," said Tacker.

The seller claimed he was on a missions trip in Nigeria, but his claims to be from the Harrisburg church, led pastor Terry Tacker to do some investigating of his own.

"I emailed the guy myself to see if he was still using our church as a reference. Of course, he had already begun to use other churches, and he said in the email that I got from him, he was from Iowa," said Tacker.

But no matter his real location, his alias as a missionary was disturbing.

"I didn't want someone reading the Democrat, responding to that, and think that he's used us as a reference. I didn't want them thinking he's from Harrisburg-- that's local, so we can trust him. When in actuality you couldn't," said Tacker.

Tacker says he emailed the address several times, but the seller seemed to get frustrated when he continued to talk about his ministry overseas.

"He asked, are you interested in the dog? I said, NO. I told him the story about the guy calling me from Russelville. I told him I was the pastor at Calvary Baptist Church and that he had used us as a reference. I asked him if he was in a scam. I never got another email back," said Tacker.

He says more than anything, it's just sad to see someone try to mix bad business with an establishment based on faith, trust, and honesty.

"It's a shame that they use things like being a missionary. You would think a missionary would be honest with you, but it's just like the old adage: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is," said Tacker.

The church says they have tried to contact the Arkansas Democrat Gazette to inform them of the ad, but have had no luck reaching anyone at this time.

Protect yourself from a scam:  Always double check information and never mail any money or give out your personal information until you are 100% sure who you are dealing with is legit.

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