Prayer Rug Scam Promises Blessings for Money

( [email protected] ) Feb 07, 2004 01:19 PM EST

It “really dumbfounded” Trisha Runyan when she received a letter from St. Matthew’s Catholic Church because she does not attend the church. The letter turned out to be a scam targeted at the elderly.

What Runyan received was the “prayer rug letter,” which featured of picture of Jesus Christ on one side of the letter while a promise of big blessings on the other.

"I was flabbergasted that our local St. Matthew's Church would send out a letter like this," Runyan said.

The letter Runyan received was sent from Tulsa, OK., while the local St. Matthew’s Catholic Church Runyan is referring to is located in San Antonio. Rev. Tom Cavanaugh of St. Matthew's Catholic Church in San Antonio denied any involvement between his church and the letter.

"It has nothing to do with the Catholic Church of San Antonio," Cavanaugh said, "and particularly with this church."

According to Runyun, the prayer rug instructs the recipient to send a donation to the return address within 24 hours after praying on the letter.

"The fact that it said return it in 24 hours, I knew it's the type of trigger that would get an elderly person (to say), 'Oh, I have to act fast,'" Runyan said.

It shouldn’t matter whether people have a piece of paper to pray on. "People should realize their own prayers are more important, " said Cavanaugh.