DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — A new rising scam is targeting grieving families across the country.
Scammers are contacting families listed in obituaries, but are posing as representatives of different funeral homes or cemeteries. When family members are contacted, they are told they have to pay money towards their loved one’s funeral services.
“They’re worried about going through the stages of grief and kind of healing themselves,” Sam Routsong, funeral director at Routsong Funeral Home said. “And the next thing they know, they’re the target of a scam.”
Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati reports that scammers recently targeted individuals, where they spoofed phone numbers and demanded additional payment for the services to remain on time. An illegitimate excuse the scammers use is there was a problem with the credit card payment, or additional funds are needed to pay.
Amy Nofziger is the Director of Fraud Victim Support with the AARP Fraud Watch Network. She says families should want to honor their loved ones that have died, but should be cognizant of the information being placed in the obituary, since anyone will be able to access it.
“Obviously, we want to honor that person but we need to be very careful about what were putting in those obituaries,” Nofziger says. “Because now that most of them are online, scammers all over the world can use those to steal from us.”
Routsong feels the best way to prevent the scam is by reaching out to the representative you have been dealing with directly at the funeral home or cemetery, because they would be the one who can verify if what your hearing is true.
“You trust them, you verify them,” Routsong says. “They’re going to be the ones that’s the go between to make sure that everything’s handled in the appropriate manner. And if you’re not hearing from your funeral director on the phone, that should kind of be a red flag to begin with.”
You are encouraged to immediately hang up the phone. Do not give anyone any of your personal or payment information. If you do, you should contact your local law enforcement agency to file an official report.
AARP has a few other options for scam prevention:
- The AARP Fraud Watch Network Hotline
- Monday thru Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- “The Perfect Scam” Podcast
- Audio Information on New Scams
- Scam Map
- View the number of scams reported each week