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How scammers have sunk to a new low with an AI obituary scam targeting the grieving

As if scammers couldn’t get any lower, a new online scam is taking advantage of people who are grieving.

This is a bizarre pirate scam that uses artificial intelligence to collect data and build fake obituary websites, exploiting the information of deceased people to defraud vulnerable victims.

A woman grieving at a graveyard. (Kurt “Cyber ​​Guy” Knutson)

I hope this unfortunate situation does not affect you or your loved ones. If you unfortunately pass away, there is little you can do to prevent someone from exploiting your obituary for their own benefit. However, these scammers specifically target kind-hearted individuals who are still alive and trying to support grieving families. It is important to always remain vigilant and protect yourself and your loved ones from such deceptive acts.

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a woman is sad

A sad woman sitting on the floor. (Kurt “Cyber ​​Guy” Knutson)

Read more: How scammers are trying to exploit your grief and wallet with new funeral scams

How fake obituaries or “bereavement fraud” works

Have you ever been there? social media accounts Have you ever seen someone post an obituary page for someone who has passed away? You’ve probably clicked on a link to learn more about the person, their influences, how they died, or to read information about their funeral.

Perhaps you would like to send flowers to the family or make a donation in their name. Of course, when someone dies, the last thing you probably think about is whether it was a scam. However, bereavement scams by heartless scammers are on the rise.

Monitor search trends

Scammers start by monitoring Google search trends to determine when people are searching for obituaries after a death.

What is artificial intelligence (AI)?

create a fake obituary

Then, once the scammer has figured out who has died, they use AI to create a fake obituary and post it on a legitimate funeral/memorial website.

SEO optimization

The scammer then uses SEO strategies to optimize these pages so that when someone searches for a specific person’s obituary page, the scammer’s page ranks first.

A trap is set

If a potential victim then attempts to click on the site, they are redirected to an electronic dating or adult entertainment site, or are presented with a CAPTCHA prompt that installs a web push notification or pop without their knowledge. will be done. Click to display the ad.

These may display fake virus alerts, but link to legitimate landing pages for subscription-based antivirus software programs. Innocent victims are often scammed because they are worried about accidentally downloading a virus.

Scammers profit in two ways

After this, two things can happen:

  • Scammers trick people into downloading the software and monetize it through affiliate rewards programs.
  • Scammers make money from ads on pages that pay per impression.

So while it doesn’t explicitly target you like other scams, it’s still very creative.nevertheless Secureworks Counter Threat Unit emphasizes that this scam does not currently infect devices with malware, but this scam may develop in that direction in the near future.

sad woman on the phone

A sad woman using a mobile phone. (Kurt “Cyber ​​Guy” Knutson)

More information: How to avoid losing your password

How to avoid obituary fraud

To protect yourself from these scams, here are some questions to ask yourself if you come across an obituary page.

Do you have a connection to the deceased? If you have no connection to the person viewing the obituary page, do not click on it. Also, if you know the person, click on the original link shared on social media by a familiar contact. Do not Google the first option that appears as it may be fake.

Be aware of fake sites. Fake obituary websites include Nextdoorfuneralhomes.com, Memorialinfoblog.com, Obituaryway.com, and Funeralinfotime.com. However, be aware that some scammers also use generic sites.

Check if the person really died. It may seem obvious, but some scammers write obituaries for people who are not actually deceased.

Be careful of suspicious pages. The main signs of a fake obituary include overly descriptive language and an impersonal tone. Many scammers rely on AI to write these obituaries as quickly as possible, usually without taking the time to review them to make them more human-like. After all, they are in a hurry to catch you immediately after the person dies.

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obit scam 4

Reflective woman. (Kurt “Cyber ​​Guy” Knutson)

Read more: Scammers use fake news and malicious links to lure you into emotional Facebook phishing traps

Cart important points

Many scammers prey on emotionally vulnerable people to get their way. This obituary scam is next-level, but it’s not that different from taking advantage of someone in a phone scam where the victim is in a hurry to transfer money or provide information. So when in doubt, always use your judgment. Take a moment before clicking a link, opening a file, or answering a phone call.

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