If an email seems suspicious, chances are it is. NFDA was recently alerted by a member to an email they received. The email reads:
I FOUND YOUR CONTACT IN THE FUNERAL HOME DIRECTORIES, I JUST LOST MY MUM. SHE DIED ON A BUSINESS TRIP TO LONDON.
I WANT YOUR FUNERAL HOME TO TAKE CARE OF HER FUNERAL ARRANGEMENT.
Name... VICKY FLEX
Place of death.... United Kingdom
Date of death..... 1/3/2017
I HAVE MAKE ALL ARRANGEMENT WITH THE FUNERAL HOME IN U.K WHERE THE BODY LIES AND ALL NECESSARY DOCUMENT HAVE BEEN OBTAINED.
I WANT YOU TO CONTACT THE FUNERAL HOME IN U.K WITH THE NEAREST AIRPORT WHERE YOU CAN RECEIVE THE REMAIN AND NAME AND ADDRESS OF THE FUNERAL DIRECTOR
HERE IS THE EMAIL ADDRESS OF THE FUNERAL HOME IN LONDON
SO LET ME KNOW AS SOON AS YOU HAVE CONTACT THEM
Over the years, NFDA has received numerous reports from members who have been contacted by scam artists. These scams have run the gamut from people pretending they want to purchase cremation jewelry to individuals claiming a relative has died in another country and they need repatriation assistance. Scammers contact funeral homes in a variety of ways (fax, email, relay operators, etc.), and the inquiries can originate from anywhere in the world.
If you are threatened by a scammer, you should contact local law enforcement officials who can assess whether the individual poses a real threat. You may also wish to file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center, www.ic3.gov, which is a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center.
Make sure all employees at your firm, as well as your firm's answering service, are aware of the potential for scams by sharing these guidelines with them.
- When an American citizen dies overseas and the remains must be returned to the United States, the nearest embassy or consulate will issue a certificate to accompany the casket. You should still personally verify the legitimacy of a death overseas and the intent to repatriate a body by contacting the State Department's Overseas Citizens Services Office at 888-407-4747.
- NFDA members can be found throughout the world. NFDA also has relationships with funeral associations in many countries around the world. NFDA staff can help verify the identity of a funeral home or funeral director in many countries. Call NFDA at 800-228-6332 for assistance.
- Simply because a charge goes through on a credit card does not mean that it is legitimate. The credit card may have been stolen and a chargeback will eventually be made against the funeral home when the theft is discovered. You should be very careful about accepting credit card payments when the contact is initiated by the consumer and the credit card number is given via e-mail, fax or telephone.
- Never wire funds to a consumer or to a third-party office such as MoneyGram. Funds should never be wired unless the you are certain of the identity of the recipient, such as a funeral home that you have personally contacted using a telephone number available through an an association, like NFDA, or another respectied directory.
- Be suspicious if the order is for several of the same items of merchandise, like cremation jewelry.
- Whenever a contact is made from overseas, be cautious. Many scams are initiated overseas.
- Be wary of any orders from addresses that use free e-mail services. Credit card companies report that these e-mail services have no billing relationship with the consumer, which makes them very difficult to trace.
- Never ship merchandise until you verify that a check has cleared and that funds are in the account.
- If you are contacted by someone asking you to send personal or banking information, do not reply in any manner. Guard your account information carefully.
- Be skeptical of individuals asking for your help in placing large sums of money in overseas bank accounts or in transferring money from an overseas bank account to an account in the United States.
- Do not believe the promise of large sums of money for your cooperation.
Click here to read an article with tips from NFDA General Counsel Scott Gillian on how to avoid merchandise fraud and telephone scams.