The Champaign Police Department is investigating a scam, which appears to target churches.
On February 20, 2013, during the Lenten evening service, an unknown male entered a Champaign church and solicited money from the congregation.
The man arrived before service to speak with a Pastor regarding donations. The man told the congregation that he needed to travel back to Syria to assist with the arrangement of his deceased parents. He also provided a false name, Michael, and reported that he was an intern at a local hospital. The congregation gathered several hundred dollars for the man who left at the conclusion of the Lenten service.
The congregants later conducted an internet search and found the man’s photo associated with various stories about him committing this scam in multiple states. The photo identified the man as Alan Michael Farah.
Congregants are warned to always verify the identity of unknown persons who ask for money and to contact police if they believe that they have been the victim of a scam.