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Fake Priest Visited Parishes Across America to Rob People; Gets Arrested in California

Over the past several months, Malin Rostas a.k.a Father Martin allegedly donned black garb and showed up at Catholic churches across the U.S. and Canada.
PUBLISHED APR 15, 2024
Cover Image Source: California police arrests fake priest | Pexels | Photo by RDNE Stock project
Cover Image Source: California police arrests fake priest | Pexels | Photo by RDNE Stock project

People visit religious places placing faith in god to protect their belongings as well as their lives, but what happens when even parishes are plagued by crooks and con artists?

One such imposter lurking around at religious places is a notorious fake priest who visited and stole from parishes across the country, before he was fortunately arrested in California. The man, Malin Rostas, 45, of New York allegedly posed as Father Martin to gain access to private parish areas. He has been accused of stealing over a thousand dollars from several Catholic parishes.



Over the past several months, Malin Rostas a.k.a Father Martin allegedly donned black garb and showed up at Catholic churches across the U.S. and Canada. According to the LA Times, the scammer claimed to be a “visiting priest” hailing from Chicago, investigators said.

Representative Image | Pexels | Photo by Alberico Bartoccini
Representative Image | Pexels | Photo by Alberico Bartoccini

Rostas allegedly gained access to the personal quarters of priests where he rifled through their valuables looking for items and cash to steal. After this, he would hastily leave the parish and move on to his next target. As per the report, in March, Father Peter Raydar, of the American Martyrs Roman Catholic Church in Queens, New York, lost about $900 after Father Martin visited.

Speaking to abc7, Raydar said, “ “It’s very sad that someone is going to come to any house of worship and just violate everybody.” Raydar added that the alleged fake priest did his homework and had already learned the names of the people at the church. He also used an ecclesiastical vocabulary and knew where to find the loot.



Rostas is also accused of stealing from a church in Houston, where he looted about $500. In Oregon, he has been accused of stealing over $1,700 from a church. Last fall, he showed up at six different parishes in the Diocese of Dallas and Houston. Most recently, Rostas was reported at several New York-area parishes. He allegedly visited a Queens parish as well as the Sisters of St. Dominic of Amityville’s motherhouse on Long Island.

The infamous Father Martin had nearly triggered a nationwide manhunt. He was finally caught on Thursday morning in Moreno Valley. The Riverside County sheriff’s deputies said that they noticed his car matched the description of a vehicle used in a string of burglaries. They found Rostas behind the wheel and after running a routine check for arrest warrants, they realized they had found Father Martin. Rostas was booked at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside and several more charges along with the outstanding felony warrant from Pennsylvania are expected to be filed soon, according to the Sheriff's Department. In a similar case last year in October, the Diocese of Stockton issued a warning about two men who stole the identities of real priests in Toluca, Mexico, and were charging people, mostly immigrant parishioners outrageous fees to perform impromptu rituals.



In another case, church officials in Miami, recently warned residents about fake priests performing bogus rituals in exchange for iTunes gift cards topped off with cash, archsa.org reported. However, this was less bizarre than the case in which owners of a restaurant hired a fake priest to “hear employees’ confessions”. The workers reported the incident after they got suspicious as the priest kept asking them about their job performance.



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