Holy Heist: Fake Priest's Trail of Fraud Ends in California Arrest

Holy Heist: Fake Priest’s Trail of Fraud Ends in California Arrest

People go to places of worship believing that god will safeguard both their lives and their possessions, but what happens when thieves and scam artists even target parishes?

One such imposter that frequents places of worship is a well-known pretender priest who, before he was mercifully apprehended in California, traveled around and stole from parishes all over the nation.

Malin Rostas, 45, a guy from New York, allegedly pretended to be Father Martin in order to enter places reserved for private parishioners. He is charged with embezzling more than $1,000 from many Catholic parishes.

Malin Rostas, also known as Father Martin, has reportedly appeared in Catholic churches in the United States and Canada over the previous few months while dressed in black. The scammer purported to be a “visiting priest” from Chicago, according to the LA Times, and authorities confirmed this.

According to reports, Rostas entered the priests’ personal rooms and went through their belongings, stealing money and other goods. He would then quickly depart the parish and go on to his next intended victim.

According to the article, Father Peter Raydar of Queens, New York’s American Martyrs Roman Catholic Church lost almost $900 during Father Martin’s visit in March.

“It’s very sad that someone is going to come to any house of worship and just violate everybody,” Raydar said in an interview with ABC7.

Raydar went on to say that the so-called phony priest completed his study and was already familiar with the identities of the churchgoers. In addition, he knew where the treasure was hidden and using ecclesiastical terminology.

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Additionally, Rostas is charged with stealing from a Houston church, allegedly taking roughly $500 in booty. He is charged with stealing more than $1,700 from a church in Oregon.

He appeared at six separate churches in the Diocese of Dallas and Houston last October. Rostas was most recently mentioned in a number of parishes in the New York area.

He purportedly went to the Long Island motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Dominic of Amityville and also to a parish in Queens.

How did Father Martin get arrested?

A nationwide manhunt had almost been started by the notorious Father Martin. On Thursday morning, he was apprehended in Moreno Valley. The car he was driving fit the description of a vehicle that had been used in several burglaries, according to the Riverside County sheriff’s officers.

After putting Rostas behind the wheel and doing a standard arrest warrant check, they discovered Father Martin was there.

According to the Sheriff’s Department, Rostas was taken into custody at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside, and he is anticipated to face other charges in the near future in addition to the active felony warrant from Pennsylvania.

A similar example occurred in October of last year, when the Diocese of Stockton sent out a warning about two men who were using the false names of actual priests in Toluca, Mexico, and charging people—mostly parishioners who were immigrants—exorbitant amounts to carry out impromptu rites.