August 8th, 2013
12:00 PM ET

Rick Warren targeted by scammers in son's death

By Mary Snow and Eric Marrapodi, CNN

(CNN)– Still grieving the death of his son, evangelical Pastor Rick Warren is now fighting off scammers looking to make a buck off his family's loss.

Warren wrote on his Facebook and Twitter accounts on Tuesday that there were scores of fake social media accounts soliciting funds.

"179 of over 200 FAKE Rick Warren Facebook pages created by scammers to make money on my son's death have now been shut down," he wrote on his Facebook page.

"We're still working on the rest. Thanks to you friends for reporting them and thanks for "LIKING" this real page. I appreciate you so much for your help. God bless you."


Warren has been public about his grief on social media since his 27-year-old son committed suicide in April after what the family described as a life-long battle with mental illness.

Warren, perhaps best known as the author of the bestselling book, "The Purpose-Driven Life," is making it his mission now to fight against the stigma of mental illness.

As part of the effort, the Warren family set up a fund in Matthew's honor.

Meanwhile, Warren has slowly returned to the public spotlight.

After a 16-week absence he returned to the pulpit July 27 and was warmly greeted by thousands of congregants at Saddleback Church, the Orange County megachurch he founded in 1980.

Warren credited his family, particularly his daughter Amy, for helping him return to work.

"I am in a family of spiritual redwoods. I mean they are giants of faith," he told congregants. "When Matthew died, Amy said, 'You know daddy,' she said, 'Satan picked the wrong family to pick on. He's gonna lose big time on this one.'"

Warren is not the only target for scammers on social media. Other megachurch leaders like Joel Osteen have also been targeted by phony Facebook pages.

Scammers rely on unwitting victims to see the name of a famous pastor on social media and click "friend" or "like," said Ed Stetzer the president of LifeWay Research, an evangelical research group. They then solicit funds by pretending to represent those pastors.

Stetzer, who has a large social media presence, has also been targeted and says Christian leaders are seeing an increase in scammers.

"I think it's important that people realize that there are a lot of evil people in the world," he said.

Stetzer says scammers copy photos and profiles so the pages look real. What often raises red flags is the content of the postings.

"The posts really weren't like I would post, and secondarily, they began to contact people and those people said 'that really doesn't sound like you at all."

Facebook says imposter pages violate its terms of agreement, "including those that forbid scams, fraud, or impersonation of others."

When those pages are reported, they are removed, the company says.

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- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • evangelicals • TV-The Situation Room

soundoff (266 Responses)
  1. Jimmy Dezalia

    go ahead and give you a shout out from {New


    November 22, 2013 at 11:04 am |
  2. Paul & Barnabas

    "You cannot learn Godly wisdom in a University and get a degree in it. It can only come to a heart in right relationship with God, and seeking it."

    August 14, 2013 at 8:05 am |
    • mzh

      Well said...

      The first verse was revealed to prophet Muhammed is 'Iqra' meaning could be read, study, seek...

      The first verses were revealed in Quran:
      Recite in the name of your Lord who created
      Created man from a clinging substance
      Recite, and your Lord is the most Generous
      Who taught by the pen
      Taught man that which he knew not
      No! [But] indeed, man transgresses
      Because he sees himself self-sufficient
      Indeed, to your Lord is the return
      Have you seen the one who forbids
      A servant when he prays?
      Have you seen if he is upon guidance
      Or enjoins righteousness?
      Have you seen if he denies and turns away
      Does he not know that Allah sees?
      No! If he does not desist, We will surely drag him by the forelock
      A lying, sinning forelock
      Then let him call his associates
      We will call the angels of Hell
      No! Do not obey him. But prostrate and draw near [to Allah ]

      So without seeking knowledge is like living in darknesses...


      August 14, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • tony

      And that's about what it's worth.

      August 16, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
  3. mzh

    25:70 – Except those who repent and believe (in Islamic Monotheism), and do righteous deeds, for those, Allah will change their sins into good deeds, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

    25:71 – And whosoever repents and does righteous good deeds, then verily, he repents towards Allah with true repentance.

    25:72 – And those who do not witness falsehood, and if they pass by some evil play or evil talk, they pass by it with dignity.

    25:73 – And those who, when they are reminded of the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of their Lord, fall not deaf and blind thereat.

    25:74 – And those who say: "Our Lord! Bestow on us from our wives and our offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and make us leaders for the righteous"

    25:75 – Those will be rewarded with the highest place (in Paradise) because of their patience. Therein they shall be met with greetings and the word of peace and respect.

    25:76 – Abiding therein; excellent it is as an abode, and as a place to dwell.

    August 13, 2013 at 7:00 am |
    • Drake

      Can you quote a verse that claims allah is loving?

      August 13, 2013 at 9:46 am |
      • Paul & Silas

        For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

        –John 3:16

        August 13, 2013 at 9:58 am |
      • mzh

        Dear Drake:

        There are plenty... here are few of them for your reference... and i would like you to figure out the rest please...

        In the name of Allah , the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.
        [All] praise is [due] to Allah, Lord of the worlds
        The Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful,
        Sovereign of the Day of Recompense
        It is You we worship and You we ask for help.
        Guide us to the straight path
        The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray.

        2:195 – And spend in the way of Allah and do not throw [yourselves] with your [own] hands into destruction [by refraining]. And do good; indeed, Allah loves the doers of good.

        2:222 – And they ask you about menstruation. Say, "It is harm, so keep away from wives during menstruation. And do not approach them until they are pure. And when they have purified themselves, then come to them from where Allah has ordained for you. Indeed, Allah loves those who are constantly repentant and loves those who purify themselves."

        3:148 – So Allah gave them the reward of this world and the good reward of the Hereafter. And Allah loves the doers of good.

        August 13, 2013 at 11:25 am |
        • Drake

          Looks like you have earn your way by 'good' works into your allah's heart. What 'good works' , how much good works?

          August 13, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
        • mzh

          Dear Drake,

          Good work is whatever you do in ur daily life… the entire quran gives the list of do and don’t… each one of the verses reflects one of the followings:

          1. A warning from previous generations (i.e. people of Noah, people of Lot, Children of Israeel, Ahlal kitaab (people of book – refers to Jew and Christian)

          2. A command to Do (believe in Oneness of Allah, believing in prophets, books, angels, day of judgement, believe in heavens and hell, be obedient to parents even if they are not Muslim, daily 5 time prayers, fasting in month of Ramadan, pay in obligatory charity if you have wealth, go to hajj if u r healthy and wealthy, help others regardless of faith, every single step of life can be counted as good deeds and so on…)

          3. A command not to Do (Do not associate any partner with Allah, do not make a prophet as son of Allah, do not say Allah has a son or daughter or wife, do not distinguish between prophets, do not make an angel as one of three (referring to trinity concept), do not disobey parents, do not kill, do not harm, do not steal, do not eat dead meat, do not eat meat from the animal was sacrificed in the name of Idols, do not drink, do not fornicate or adultery, do not look down to orphan and poor, do not spread the fasaad (trouble) on the earth and so on…)

          The smallest good deed is to smile on others human regardless of faith…

          I hope it will help…


          August 14, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
  4. Jesus the Christ

    His son was probably gay and couldn't understand why his Dad, who also seems to be gay, would be so hateful toward his own child.

    August 12, 2013 at 9:15 am |
    • just me

      your hateful and evil nature will catch up with you someday..rest assured. you are an ugly pathetic excuse for a human being.

      August 12, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
    • just me

      your handle says all anybody needs to know about you and your thoughts and where they come from.

      August 12, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
    • just me

      why dont you ask Jesus directly..it only takes you to open your heart and talk with him from there. I can personally attest this is how I know him. He is more real than you might think.

      August 12, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
      • mzh

        Just wait patiently for the day to come when every one of us will be standing before HIM... no one will be there for anybody except himself....

        August 13, 2013 at 7:03 am |
  5. tony

    Look how many scammers make money bleating about the claimed death of one Jesus Christ.

    August 12, 2013 at 12:06 am |
    • just me

      the vast majority of Christian charities are not a funneling ground for thieves but of course you would not know one way or another...but I do in my particular capacity. I venture to say..you spite such thoughts and do nothing yourself to help the needy..other than your own pathetic self.

      August 12, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
  6. LS

    Irony: a scammer complaining about scammers

    August 11, 2013 at 9:39 am |
  7. Name*

    I don't see much a difference between a pastor sicitinv money for his church and scammers soliciting money for the death of his child. One of them may be in poor taste, but both are ultimately scammers...

    August 10, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
  8. Akira

    Why would you even speculate on that? Sheesh.

    August 9, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
  9. I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

    Even I find that in poor taste.

    August 9, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
  10. MrHighMighty

    Mr Warren, if "Satan picked the wrong family to pick on", you need to understand that Satan can operate only within the boundaries set by God, and so if God allowed Satan to pick on your family and cause your son to end his own life, God did it with a purpose, and you have a duty to yourself, your family, and your church to understand what His purpose is. Hint: You will find the answer through humble and prayerful study of Scripture (not your man-centered book), and the purpose was definitely not to inspire you to "fight against the stigma of mental illness".

    August 9, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      The god you describe is an a hole. Why would you worship that?

      August 9, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        At least he's not passing the buck to Satan like virtually every other Christian does when something bad happens.

        August 9, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          I agree, my 6th grade teacher had the same line of reasoning. Never made any sense and I don't see how one can claim that is the behavior of a 'loving' god.

          August 9, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          The willing suspension of disbelief is how I see it. Create a fantastical enough narrative and the reader will suspend judgement at the implausibility of the narrative.

          August 9, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • Akira

      Didn't Mathew, Mark, Luke and John also write a book apiece?
      What if God's plan IS for Warren to “fight against the stigma of mental illness”?
      Can you learn empathy through the Bible? Because it would seem you lack it.

      August 9, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
      • Hello

        read Caesar's Messiah by Joseph Atwill. for the reason for the M,M,L J in the bible...

        August 10, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
        • Beth

          How does that counter MrHighMighty's argument at all? At least that's what the poster was trying to do...

          August 10, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
    • jacque

      Sir, his purpose might be the same as in Job. God allowed satan to torment Job because he knew that in the end Job would still love him. Pastor Rick and his family have most definitely exemplified this faith in my book.

      August 12, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
  11. jim

    No need to buy Rick's book...
    Ecc 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this [is] the whole [duty] of man.
    Done. Save yourself $12 and a lot of hokey boring nonsense.

    August 9, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      That strategy applies to the Bible as well and I saved myself much more than $12.....talk about 'hokey nonsense'.

      August 9, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
  12. Bootyfunk

    perhaps his son took his own life because he was g.ay and knew his father hates and preaches against h.omos.exuals. can't imagine having this t.u.r.d for a father.

    August 9, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • Hello

      I've been wondering that myself.... It may have been his son's only way of dealing with his dad. He could never come out..because he would ruin his dad's cash cow.. income.. so... using the mental illness excuse was the only way out for him.. and so sad for many more...
      The christian myth is a scam.. Read Caesar's Messiah by Joseph Atwill for the details

      August 10, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
  13. Sam Yaza

    insensitive joke time

    looks like The Purpose-Driven Life was one book his son didn't read.
    what was his kids mental illness being christian?

    OK your turn

    August 9, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      Looks like Warren purposely drove his sone to off himself.

      August 9, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • Joe White

      That hurts, Sam.

      August 9, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.