Pandemic funeral scam targets survivors - Albuquerque Journal

Pandemic funeral scam targets survivors

Just to show how completely wretched scammers can be, the latest COVID-related fraud features government imposters trying to rip off the grieving survivors of pandemic victims.

They are doing it by playing off a legitimate relief program that helps qualified survivors pay the funeral expenses of loved ones lost to the coronavirus.

That program, managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, began April 12 and pays up to $9,000 in funeral and burial expenses incurred after Jan. 20, 2020.

The process begins when applicants contact the agency (at 844-684-6333) — and not the other way around.

Even before the program officially started, FEMA said it had received complaints about scammers contacting people and asking if they needed help registering for assistance. There will be no such contact from FEMA — whether by phone call, text or email — until you have called the agency first or applied for assistance.

“Anyone who contacts you out of the blue and claims to be a federal employee or from FEMA is a scammer,” says a government alert.

Also:

– The legitimate program does not require applicants to pay a fee to get the financial assistance.

– You won’t be asked for your bank account, credit card or Social Security number.

– Do not give personal or financial information belonging to you or the victim to anyone who contacts you out of the blue.

***

For those planning to venture forth and travel this summer, beware of con artists who are trying to rip people off by taking advantage of skyrocketing rental car costs.

The higher costs, caused by a rental car shortage, have prompted reports of con artists pretending they’re rental car company representatives who can offer a special deal, according to the Better Business Bureau.

“… It’s really a way to trick you into paying hundreds of dollars for a car that doesn’t exist,” the BBB says.

It works this way: Customers doing an online search come across targeted ads, which link to multiple websites in which “car rental” is part of the address, according to Auto Rental News.

The usual red flag applies: Watch for very bad grammar and odd wording.

For example, verbatim: “Traveling is a new experience that can transport you out of your routine to create memories withyour (sic) loved ones. So lazy-head get up from your bed, book a car and travel across.” And, common to so many scams, prepaid cash or gift cards come into the picture. When a customer falls into the trap of clicking on a telephone number in the ad, they get an “agent” who tells them they are in luck because they are eligible for a big discount if they use a pre-paid card.

The customer buys the card and gives the number to the fake agent. What they get in return is a bogus rental confirmation number and no car.

Here’s what to do, according to the BBB:

– Never make payments with prepaid debit or gift cards. This is the preferred method for scammers, because those who are duped will not be able to get their money back. Legitimate companies almost always take credit cards.

– Use contact information listed on the company’s website.

– Beware of sponsored links.

– If you’re in doubt about a promotional deal, verify with the company by using a customer service number from the official website.

Contact Ellen Marks at emarks@abqjournal.com or 505-823-3842 if you are aware of what sounds like a scam. To report a scam to law enforcement, contact the NM Consumer Protection Division at 1-888-255-9210 or at www.nmag.gov/file-a-complaint.aspx.

Home » Business » Business Columns » Pandemic funeral scam targets survivors


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Credit union is No. 1 large company in Top ...
ABQnews Seeker
Employees at Nusenda Credit Union say ... Employees at Nusenda Credit Union say they feel they are making a difference in the lives of members. The company, founded in 1936 as ...
2
Construction firm is No. 1 mid-size company in Top ...
ABQnews Seeker
Bradbury Stamm Construction, which has more ... Bradbury Stamm Construction, which has more than 150 employees in New Mexico and over 250 overall across two states, is a place that employees ...
3
New Mexico's Top Workplaces 2022: Full list
ABQnews Seeker
The Journal's 10th annual Top ... The Journal's 10th annual Top Workplaces program celebrates employers that are getting it right.
4
Home builder is No. 1 small company in Top ...
ABQnews Seeker
Abrazo Homes may be a newer ... Abrazo Homes may be a newer homebuilder for the New Mexico community, but the company's employees say it has already established a great team ...
5
Pâtisserie opens storefront location in Albuquerque
ABQnews Seeker
For the past two years, the ... For the past two years, the pastries of Blue Door Pâtisserie could be found displayed inside glass cases at Albuquerque’s Sawmill Market near Old ...
6
Financial services firm is No. 2 large company in ...
ABQnews Seeker
Q&A with Leean Kravitz, vice president ... Q&A with Leean Kravitz, vice president of governmental relations and regional co-site leader at Fidelity Investments
7
School is No. 2 mid-size employer in Top Workplaces ...
ABQnews Seeker
Q&A with Patricia Beecher, superintendent at ... Q&A with Patricia Beecher, superintendent at New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
8
School is No. 2 small employer in Top Workplaces ...
ABQnews Seeker
Q&A with Aldis Philipbar, development director ... Q&A with Aldis Philipbar, development director at Amy Biehl High School.
9
Electrical company is No. 3 large company in Top ...
ABQnews Seeker
B&D Industries is the No. 3 ... B&D Industries is the No. 3 large company in Top Workplaces for 2022.
10
Oil and gas firm is No. 3 mid-size company ...
ABQnews Seeker
Q&A with Ezra Yacob, CEO of ... Q&A with Ezra Yacob, CEO of EOG Resources ...