FBI Report: Churches and Nonprofits Being Targeted for Mail Theft

The FBI issued an Emerging Intelligence Report on June 21, 2021, warning U.S. religious organizations and nonprofits that they are being targeted by Romanian Organized Crime groups to steal mailed donation checks.

News media outlets reported in May that checks totaling more than $760,000 had been stolen from hundreds of churches across the country. The scheme was simple but very effective. The suspects simply visited churches on days when there were no services and took all the mail including envelopes with checks. The checks were then deposited into accounts set up by the suspects and the funds later withdrawn using ATMs.

To help your church or nonprofit avoid being a target, consider these strategies to protect your organization:

  • Retrieve mail in a timely manner
  • Utilize an anti-theft mailbox
  • Use a post office box instead of a traditional mailbox
  • Use the lockbox services of a local bank
  • Implement electronic giving options

For more information on internal controls related to cash receipts and donations, refer to ECFA’s 9 Essentials of Avoiding Ministry Fraud, 9 Essentials of Internal Controls for Ministries, and Internal Controls – Actions Steps to Excellence.

This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.