LAKE FOREST, Calif. Scammers on Facebook are soliciting donations from unsuspecting individuals for donations in the name Rick Warren's son, who committed suicide last month.
Facebook hoaxes are not new but this takes it to a new low by scammers using a son's death to prey on religious followers.
The Saddleback Church pastor and best-selling author of "The Purpose-Driven Life" has taken to Twitter and Facebook to fight back against the scams.
"Since my son Matthew died, a large number of fake Rick Warren Facebook pages have been popping up where unscrupulous crooks are ripping off people and making money by asking for donations in the name of my son," said Warren in a Facebook message on May 24.
"They are all fake. We've shut down over 150 of these fake Facebook pages but new ones keep multiplying daily," said Warren.
According to charity watchdog groups, not all online donation solicitations are equal. There is less oversight on online drives, which makes them more prone to scams.
The Federal Trade Commission recommends that consumers donate to charities that they know and trust. The FTC also suggests that before giving to a charity consumers should do some research to find out as much as you can about the charity so that "you can avoid fraudsters who try to take advantage of your generosity."
Warrens make first appearance since son's death
Warren and his wife Kay made their first public appearance to the church congregation on Saturday, May 25, since their youngest son committed suicide on April 5.
"I have wept every day since my son died and I make no apology for that," Warren told his congregation. "Grief is a good thing. It is the way we go through the transitions of life."
It was an emotional, heart-felt talk reflecting on the past two months and thanking the church family for their prayers and support. Warren stated that no one is exempt from the heartache of tragedy and that tears should not embarrass us. He said, "If you want to be like Jesus, you've got to learn how to weep."
Warren told the congregation that he was not without hope "because I know where Matthew is."
Matthew Warren suffered from mental illness and depression since birth. "Only those closest knew that (Matthew) struggled from birth with mental illness, dark holes of depression, and even suicidal thoughts," wrote Warren in an earlier statement. "In spite of America's best doctors, meds, counselors, and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided."
The Warrens have two older children, Amy and Josh, and five grandchildren. Warren is the author of "The Purpose Driven Life" and "The Purpose Driven Church," two of the best-selling books in recent publishing history. Kay Warren is author of several books including "Choose Joy" (2012) and "Say Yes to God" (2010).