Rod Dreher posted a warning on NRO’s The Corner from a priest-friend who said his diocese has warned of a con scheme.
A Catholic priest friend of mine passed on an e-mail alert he got from his bishop, warning priests of the diocese about a new scam going around. Seems that there’s a con man going around to Catholic parishes bidding on carpentry jobs and suchlike. The man, who allegedly uses the name “Joseph Dimetro,” does the work, then he tries to charge the parish significantly more than was agreed on. If the priest balks, the con artist, who travels with a small boy, threatens to lodge child molestation accusations against the cleric, which, of course, could destroy the priest’s career.
Turns out that my priest friend had gotten a call from “Joseph Dimetro” just last week, looking for work. Too bad the alert from the chancery didn’t arrive a little bit sooner; authorities might have been able to arrest this grifter. Clerical readers should keep an eye out for him. It’s useful for the rest of us to keep in mind that there are dirtbags like this going around, trying to use people’s justified concern and anxiety over the sex-abuse scandal to make money by threatening to ruin the lives of innocent priests.
Most priests I know are pretty savvy about scams and cons, although I guess not enough are. I know that my pastor, who served a parish in a very poor part of Boston for two decades, has seen plenty of attempted scams and is adept at sniffing them out. People seem to think that priests would be soft touches because they “have to help people” without understanding exactly what that would mean.