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The “Scammers Hall of Shame”

May 21, 2024

The Federal Trade Commission has issued an alert for a new scam for stealing from vulnerable familes, one which the agency believes should be in the Top Ten List of the Scammers Hall of Shame. The scammer impersonates a representative of the funeral home, and says that additional funds must be paid immediately or the funeral will be cancelled. “Can you imagine anything more despicable?” the FTC said in its announcement.

Obituaries typically include information about funeral arrangements, and that’s where the thieves get their leads. The days before a funeral may be especially emotional, making it hard to respond with cool rationality to the telephone call or text demanding payment.

The FTC offers three tips, which are applicable to all internet scams.

Don’t rush. Any honest business will give customers time to make a decision.

Call back. Contact the funeral home directly, using a phone number that they provided, not the phone number of the scammer.

Be suspicious of odd payment methods. When someone demands to be paid in gift cards, a wire transfer, or cryptocurrency, they are almost certainly attempting a scam. These payment methods are harder to trace, making it harder to bring criminals to justice.

April is Financial Literacy Month, and the FTC has published supporting information at https://consumer.ftc.gov/consumer-alerts/2024/03/financial-literacy-month-focus-money-matters.

(April 2024)

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