Til death do us part: The new scam targeting Aussie mourners

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It seems not even death can save you from scammers, according to growing reports of a new scam targeting vulnerable mourners through funeral live streams.

As part of the scheme, scammers will take note of the funeral director or church facilitating the live stream, as well as pictures and details of the deceased person’s obituary, using the information to create a Facebook page or account. 

Unofficial pages (like the image pictured below) pose as a legitimate way to watch a live stream of the deceased person’s funeral, but then direct viewers to an alternate, fraudulent streaming platform. Once the viewer reaches the platform, they’re prompted to input their personal and bank details for a ‘subscription payment’ in exchange for the stream. 

Callide Dawson Funeral Homes in Central Queensland were the latest victims targeted by the scam. Image: ABC

The scam’s rise in prevalence comes only a few weeks after targeting Labor MP Peta Murphy’s funeral livestream. Guardian Australia reported at least nine Facebook pages impersonating the funeral livestream, some with over 1,000 followers or friends falling victim to the scheme. However, the pages were swiftly removed after several of Murphy’s family, friends, and supporters were contacted and it was brought to the attention of Facebook’s parent company, Meta. 

Even though Murphy’s social media team did share a link that led to a live stream of the funeral service, it was then marred as various fake pages began impersonating the service, offering her family, friends, and supporters fraudulent links. 

Meta’s statement said that fraudsters were “constantly finding new ways to deceive people”. The company is said to have removed some 827 million fake accounts globally between July and September this year. The spokesperson assured that the company is using machine learning and trained staff to identify accounts breaching its policies. In addition to this, Australian staff are also working with the National Anti-Scam Centre to address fraudulent activity. 

Protecting your information

This scam might seem especially daunting if you have a recently deceased family member and are considering hosting a livestream so family can view their stream remotely. The National Anti-Scam Centre is aware of funeral live stream scams, and recommends contacting the funeral home directly for the live stream details. Funeral directors, homes, or churches will not request payment in exchange for your presence at a funeral or a link to the stream.

As always, report any fraudulent activity to the ACCC's Scamwatch, and don't click on any suspicious links, even if you think it might lead to your loved one's funeral service.

Hannah Geremia
Written by
Hannah has had over six years of experience in researching, writing, and editing quality content. She loves gaming, dancing, and animals, and can usually be found under a weighted blanket with a cup of coffee and a book.

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