Warning as scammers target funeral livestreams

A shocking new scam is targeting victims at one of their most vulnerable moments – when they’re mourning the loss of a loved one.

It seems every week there’s a new scam to watch out for, but this one stoops to lows we’ve rarely seen before.

Funeral directors around Australia are warning that scammers are increasingly targeting funeral livestreams and posting fraudulent links on fake Facebook pages dedicated to the deceased.

These fake pages then provide a donation link so viewers can donate to the grieving family. But, as you can probably guess, the link leads to an account linked to the scammers and not your friends and family. The fake pages are also used to gather other personal information valued by the scammers.

Livestreaming funerals over the internet became popular during the COVID lockdown years, and have remained popular as an option for those who are unable to make a funeral.

Dale Gilson, chief executive of the Australian Funeral Directors Association (AFDA), told 9News the scam was the “lowest you can get”.

“It’s one of the toughest times in their life, and then to have unscrupulous people out there attempt to request personal information, or to work towards funding their unscrupulous lifestyle,” he said.

Mr Gilson says he does not believe anybody has actually lost money as yet through this scam, but that funeral directors are seeing attempts at the scam proliferates.

He added that funeral directors would never send a social media friend request to mourners or ask for financial details.

“Funeral directors will not request payment or personal details to attend a funeral, either in-person or to watch via live stream,” Mr Gilson said.

“People are becoming more aware of it; we’re hearing of cases all across Australia, so it’s important for everyone to be really vigilant.”

The scam has been seen overseas, but was first reported in Australia late last year and targeted the funeral of federal Labor MP Peta Murphy.

A spokesperson for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) told the ABC the regulator is aware of the scam and advises consumers to contact funeral homes directly for any livestreaming details.

“We have had some reports of this extending to live streaming funerals,” the ACCC spokesperson said.

Mr Gilson says that while he encourages consumers to be vigilant, he would also like to see funeral homes themselves take a more proactive approach in shutting down these types of scams down.

Have you attended any livestreamed funerals recently? Were you ever asked for money or personal information? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: Banks develop new accord to give you better protection from scammers

Written by Brad Lockyer

Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.

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