If an email seems "fishy," chances are it is. NFDA was recently alerted by several members in different parts of the country to the latest scam email. The email, which is riddled with grammatical errors, reads:
Hello my name is Anthony Cockrell, I live in [your city]. I am a captain of a fishing vessel and I am on sea at this moment. I will like to use your funeral home for the funeral of my wife who passed away on the 14th of November, 2015 after an automobile accident in London England while on a business trip. she is currently at a funeral home in England.
I will like you to help me make all the funeral arrangement. I will want you to help me contact the funeral home in England and figure out all the necessary arrangement to be made to ship her body back to the states to your funeral home for final burial. please let me know if you would be able to help me make this arrangement so i can write you back with the contact information of the funeral home in England so we can begin with the shipping arrangement.
Capt. Anthony Cockrell
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.