A Catholic bishop has warned congregants within the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in India to be vigilant of telephone scammers seeking to trap Christian women and girls within their community.
Bishop Joseph Kallangarat of the Palai diocese of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in Kerala highlighted his concerns in a circular released on Saturday.
The publication explained how various groups are thought to be targeting Christian females and befriending them through phone calls in an effort to entrap them.
Bishop Joseph has urged church families to be on alert: "You must be aware of the various sections and groups that have been trying to trap our female children with various tactics."
The circular explains that "fraudsters will contact these women over the phone and introduce themselves as a former vicar or assistant vicar of their respective parish," before collecting their personal details under the pretence of academic papers or to discuss "subjects such as honesty and mother-daughter relationships."
"If the receiver expresses any doubt about the voice of the caller, the answer would be that he has just returned from abroad and the difference in voice was because of the weather in the foreign country," the circular reads.
Parish priests have been instructed to warn families within their parishes to ensure they do not fall victim to such scams.
According to news publication TNM, it is not yet known if any individual complaint relating to the claims has been filed.
Last year the Syro-Malabar Church raised similar concerns about its female members when Chief Cardinal Mar George Alencherry's circular alleged that Christian women were being targeted and recruited by Islamic terrorist organisations.
The statement was met with criticism among some church leaders who refused the theory.
According to Christian persecution charity Open Doors, less than 5 per cent of the Indian population is Christian and believers their face ongoing persecution due to their faith - particularly from Hindu extremists who believe all Indians should be Hindus.
India is ranked number 10 on the Open Doors World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most severe persecution.