Carmel church members say they were conned out of hundreds of dollars

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CARMEL, Ind. (May 16, 2015) -- As you head off to Sunday church services, a pastor from Carmel wants you to watch out for a certain man. They say he conned the church congregation out of hundreds of dollars. The pastor of the Bethlehem Lutheran Church says it was upsetting to feel like they'd been had.

Each week, the church services are broadcast live which is why the cameras were on the man. Pastor George Ferch says the man came to last Sunday's services and started telling a story of how members of his family were killed overseas. On the video, you hear the man say it happened while his parents were trying to get to Syria. According to the pastor, the guy said he had to get over there to identify their bodies and needed $200 to get his passport stamped. Members of the church ended up giving him $750.

A church member later searched the web and found a man, fitting the same description, has reportedly been going to churches nationwide and getting money out of them for years. Based on that information it looks like Bethlehem Lutheran was probably conned.

Pastor George Ferch has a message to other churches who want to help people.

"Don't become cynical, don't feel that we shouldn't help people anymore, be a little more discerning, look in to it just a little bit deeper," Ferch said.

The church did report this to Carmel police. A police spokesman says they have sent it to the prosecutor for review to determine if a crime was committed.

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