Skip to main content

Sob story from 'con man' sees MN churchgoers swindled of $1,000

  • Author:
  • Updated:

A so-called con man from Texas accused of swindling money from members of churches in Rochester is behind bars.

The Rochester Post Bulletin reports that Alan Farha, 39, on Monday told a sob story to parishioners at the Pax Christi Catholic Church and Saint John the Evangelist Catholic Church about how his "whole family had been killed by an IED in Beirut."

Police Capt. John Sherwin told the newspaper that as he told his story "the wallets started opening up, and people started giving." He is accused of collecting more than $1,000 from members of the two churches.

According to ABC 6, Farha, of Carrolton, Texas, has been described by police as a "professional con man" with a history of fraud. He is due to appear in court on Friday for theft by deception.

Suspicions were raised when a parishioner at one of the churches heard he'd told the same story at another and a crime alert was released, with local police hearing back from an officer in St. Paul who said they had cases involving the same man, KIMT reports.

He was apprehended by police at the Trinity Lutheran Church in Rochester – where he is said to have told the exact same story – after being recognized by the priest, ABC 6 notes.

"Mr. Farha is a very smooth operator, has a very convincing story," Rochester Police Captain John Sherwin told the TV station. "It's human nature to be trusting but in this case he's taking advantage of people and their generosity."

KIMT adds that investigators found out Farha collected around $10,000 from churches in Missouri using similar tactics in 2008.

Next Up

kim crockett facebook sos

MN GOP endorses attorney general, secretary of state candidates

Kim Crockett was endorsed as the party's candidate for secretary of state, while Jim Schultz won the endorsement for attorney general.


Volunteer firefighter identified as man killed during Thursday storms

The Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office confirmed that 63-year-old Ryan Erickson died when a grain bin fell on him.

Juan Ramos, standing outside of his Taco Chon Mexican Grill, in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

Firm takes on case defending Taco Chon against Taco John's lawsuit

The local Mexican restaurant is fighting a case presented by Taco John's over naming rights, among other things.

Screen Shot 2022-05-14 at 7.32.27 AM

Worker killed in skid loader accident was 23-year-old apprentice lineman

Minnesota Valley Electric Cooperative called the incident "the unthinkable."

Cascade River 1

Raging North Shore rivers overtake bridges, snap trees in half

Pedestrian bridges near the Lutsen Resort have been damaged by the vast river flow.

u.s. attorney's office

St. Paul man sentenced for 2021 robbery spree

Warren Dean, 27, admitted to robbing seven St. Paul businesses in a span of three days.


Stevens County may have been hit the hardest by Thursday storms

The entire county was without power after the storms blew through Thursday evening.

State Patrol

3 killed, 1 critical after trio of crashes in Minnesota Thursday

One person also faces life-threatening injuries in a crash that happened in Olmsted County.

Screen Shot 2022-05-13 at 1.25.08 PM

Mora woman saves pelican caught in fishing line for days

A birthday fishing trip shapes into a heroic tale.

Kelsey Peterson in the documentary, "Move Me."

Doc depicting MN dancer's journey with paralysis debuts at Twin Cities film festival

The film surrounds St. Paul-born Kelsey Peterson, who continues to pursue her passions in dance after being paralyzed from the chest down in 2012.


Hoffman, Minn. man grows 1,000 lb. pumpkin

David Starner of Hoffman has been challenging himself to grow a half-ton pumpkin since 2002. Finally this year, after installing heating cable in his garden soil and building a mini greenhouse over each seedling, Starner thinks he's done it. According to the pumpkin's measurements, it should weigh in around 1,029 pounds.

Comic-Con comes to State Fairgrounds

While it was a lot smaller than the International Comic-con held in San Diego every year, the Twin Cities held its own over the weekend. Hundreds of collectors and artists converged at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds to share their love for comics.