The Roman Catholic Diocese of Stockton has issued a warning to the public about individuals posing as Spanish-speaking Catholic priests and bishops who are conducting fraudulent activities in Modesto.
Driving the news: Imposters have been discovered to steal the identities of genuine priests in Mexico and conduct unauthorized celebrations of baptism, confirmation, First Communion, and house blessings under false pretenses.
- The fake priests and bishops charge exorbitant fees to celebrate the sacraments, teach classes, and issue certificates. They also request submission of birth certificates of individuals participating in these sacraments, raising concerns about human trafficking and identity theft.
- Father José Adán González Estrada and Bishop Raúl Gómez González are two confirmed identities being exploited. The Diocese of Stockton verified the veracity of the deception in collaboration with the Archdiocese of Toluca in Mexico.
- The imposters resort to intimidation tactics against anyone questioning their identity or authority, often threatening legal action for defamation.
- The Diocese of Stockton has informed Modesto law enforcement authorities about the alleged scam. Individuals who have fallen victim to the Catholic clergy imposters can file complaints and initiate investigations.
- The Diocese of Stockton warns the public to be cautious of those who claim to be Catholic priests or bishops and to check with the Diocese to confirm their credentials.