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Man impersonates priest to rob churches

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Fake priest robs churches (Photo: Shutterstock/Riverside County Sheriff)
  • Fake priest robs churches.
  • Arrested for theft and fraud.
  • Alert about religious frauds.

Using a fake priestly investiture, Malin Rostas, 45, allegedly managed to rob countless Catholic churches in Texas, California, New York and Oregon.

Fortunately, he is already behind bars and will be tried for serious crimes, Riverside County authorities reported.

Rostas, according to investigations, called himself Father Martín and identified himself as a religious from Chicago. He infiltrated churches and at the slightest oversight he allegedly stole valuable objects and cash.

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Fake priest captured for fraud

False priest robs churches, Malin Rostas, Father Martín, USA, MundoNOW
False priest known as Father Martín robs churches PHOTO: Shutterstock

Law enforcement agencies across the United States were on the trail of the alleged hoaxer for months. Until finally, on April 10, they managed to locate and arrest him.

The agents located him, at approximately 11:00 in the morning, while he was driving a black Sedan in the 10000 block of Pigeon Pass Road, his arrest warrant details.

According to the report, the vehicle he was driving matched the description of the car used for other robberies in other temples in the country.

In the criminal history presented by the authorities, Rostas is identified as the main suspect in the theft of $1,000 at the Saint Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church on Hillfcroft Street, in Houston, in October 2023.

The case of Malin Rostas

Likewise, the document mentions his alleged participation in the theft of more than $1,700 from a church in Oregon.

The detectives in charge of the search for the suspect explained that during his assaults Rostas was dressed in black. He communicated strictly in religious language and knew exactly where valuable objects were kept in the temples.

Given the frequency of theft and scams within congregations, the Diocese of Stockton and some Miami churches warned the faithful about fake priests who perform fake rituals in exchange for iTunes gift cards loaded with cash.

Others, church authorities warned, were using the identities of real priests in Toluca, Mexico. And they were charging parishioners, mostly immigrants, exorbitant fees to perform baptisms, confirmations, first communions.

He called himself Father Martin

Malin Rostas, Father Martín, false priest, USA, MundoNOW
Fake priest known as Father Martín robs churches PHOTO: Riverside County Sheriff

Although the authorities do not specify in how many cases the alleged Father Martín would be involved.

Officials said he was booked into the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside on a arrest warrant for pending Pennsylvania felony.

So far it is not clear whether he will be extradited to New York, Pennsylvania or will be tried in Riverside County or what new charges the prosecutor’s office will add to his file.

According to Riverside Sheriff’s Office it is expected that more charges will be filed against the detainee soon.

They warn about religious frauds

False priest, arrested, Father Martín, USA, MundoNOW
False priest known as Father Martín robs churches PHOTO: Shutterstock

Authorities believe there may be more victims of heist and encourages anyone with information about this case to contact (951) 486-6700 or their local law enforcement agency.

Researchers’ estimates are that the famous Father Martin participated in serial robberies in temples from coast to coast of the United States and Canada.

They hope that in the course of their judicial process they will be able to find more victims.

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