Better Business Bureau warns of funeral assistance scam targeting families of COVID-19 victims

Miami Valley News

KETTERING, Ohio (WDTN) – The Better Business Bureau is issuing a warning as scammers target those who lost loved ones to COVID-19.

FEMA has a COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Program that could cover up to $9,000 worth of funeral expenses.

Routsong Funeral Home Director Sam Routsong said the money is meant to help families recover from the emotional and financial loss caused by COVID-19.

“When someone is affected by a passing and they have not anticipated, people don’t necessarily have the financial ability to cover a lot of those things,” Routsong said.

However, scam artists posing as FEMA are sending fake checks or trying to steal personal information by calling or texting.

John North with the Dayton Better Business Bureau said the BBB has received several reports of this scam happening across Ohio.

“Scam artists are going to use that, those emotions, the loss, the financial loss, the loss of a loved one, to try to get as much money out of you as they can,” North said.

North said families have to initiate the application by calling FEMA themselves, and they will not be contacted by FEMA first.

“They will not contact you by phone, by email, by text message or any other way,” North said.

Routsong said they’ve been working with families to let them know the FEMA funds are available. He said when in doubt, talk with your funeral director for help when applying.

“We’ve helped dozens of families through this process already, whether it’s sending out death certificates or making copies of certain things, so your funeral director should be able to help you out,” Routsong said.

If you do receive a suspicious call, text or email, report it to FEMA and the Better Business Bureau.

If you believe you are a victim of a scam and money has been taken, North said to file a police report with your local jurisdiction.

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