- Associated Press - Saturday, June 4, 2016

MILWAUKEE (AP) - A man is accused of scamming people at two Milwaukee churches by claiming his parents had been killed by a roadside bomb in Syria and that he needed money to go there and identify their remains.

Alan Farha, 40, who lists a Texas address, was charged last weekend with theft of less than $2,500, a misdemeanor, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (https://bit.ly/1XssJ0h ) reported. Farha remained jailed Saturday on $5,000 cash bond and has a court hearing scheduled Tuesday.

According to the criminal complaint, Farha attended services at St. Veronica Congregation on May 24, told his story to those in attendance and collected about $460. That was after the pastor told Farha that the church would pray for him and his family but does not give money, the complaint said. During the service, Farha spoke up and said he needed $200 for expenses to get back to Syria, the priest said.

The day before, Farha stopped at St. Charles Borromeo Church. This time, he said his grandmother was among the victims and collected $73 from seven parishioners, the complaint said.

On May 27, when he went to a third church, Farha was pointed out to police by a woman from St. Veronica and arrested.

According to the complaint, Farha said he took a little over $300 from St. Veronica’s. Police said he had in his possession a list of confessions that included “lots of conning, scamming and cheating people out of $$$.”

Farha’s defense attorney did not respond to a phone message left at her office on Saturday.

Police said Farha has been arrested for similar scams around the country. In January, he was arrested in Rochester, Minnesota, where he got $1,200 from churchgoers. He was placed on five years’ probation in February in that case, the complaint said.

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Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, https://www.jsonline.com

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