UPDATE: Suspect arrested in Cedar Rapids church scam - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATE: Suspect arrested in Cedar Rapids church scam

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Alan Michael Farha Alan Michael Farha

Police arrested Alan Michael Farha II, 41, for Theft-2nd Degree. Investigators determined the suspect deceived several people and churches out of money, totaling $5,000-$6,000. The suspect was arrested in the 1600 block of 4th Venue SE and transported to the Linn County Jail. 

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The Cedar Rapids Police department is warning churches to be wary of a scam involving a male who has been attending area church services and committing alleged fraudulent practices in order to obtain money from members of the church. 

Police say the male is in his mid to late-30’s and is believed to have attended several area church services and different religious denominations.  

According to police, the individual asked church members for money to help him pay for luggage fees and airline tickets to fly overseas to the Middle East where his parents were killed in a roadside bombing.

"The suspect usually requests to make an announcement before church services start or when visitors are asked to introduce themselves," said Public Safety Communications Coordinator Greg Buelow.  "At that time, the suspect tells those in attendance at the church service that his parents have been killed in Syria and that he needs money to fly home to be with other family members.   The story is believed to be false and the suspect is believed to have been engaged in similar fraud throughout the United States."

The act of acquiring money by deception is considered theft.  Cedar Rapids Police encourages anyone that is approached by a subject requesting money or presenting a suspicious deal to contact the department. 

If any church or other religious institution is believed to have been the victim of this alleged scam, please contact Investigator DeMoss at 319-286-5485.

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