(WICHITA, Kan.)—The man came first to St. Stephens Episopal Church, with a story of desperate need. He asked for a prayer group, then he begged the choir for money.
He told a story about his mother, his father and his grandmother being killed as they were crossing a border overseas. Then he asked for $200 so that he'd have enough for a plane ticket to Syria.
"I would say in the first two or three minutes he had us," said Ben Winters of the St. Stephens congregation.
waiting for a friend to come from newton to take him to kansas city to get on the airplane to go to syria 47:05 then he said, he needed 200 more dollars to get his plane ticket.
"At some point it started to seem like he had rehearsed a lot of this," Winter said. "He threw in a lot of sort of extraneous details. He asked repeatedly for rides to an ATM so someone could pull cash out of their bank account ... and eventually we asked him to leave."
After they escorted the man out of St Stephens, they believe he showed up at another episcopal church, St. James.
"We were alerted by St. Stephens to be on the lookout for this person who was coming," said St. James Associate Rector David Lynch.
But it was too late. He'd already gotten inside the music room, where the choir was practicing. He told the same story. He got more money - and a ride.
But something seemed familar.
"The person who actually took him from choir recognized him from some years ago, and then came up with a picture and a document that identified this person - that looked exactly like him - as a scam artist," Lynch said.
Now, both churchs hope others won't fall for the same scam.
"We go to church," Winters said. "We're Christians. We want to be able to help people. Unfortunately, people like this make us skeptical of those who are really in need. And for me, that's the saddest part of this."