PhotoBy now it's safe to say: there is no low to which Internet scammers won't sink. The latest proof of this theory is the latest Internet scam: hackers seeking to put malware on people's computers do so by sending out fake funeral notices to grieving friends and families.

The US government's online-scam information website,, warned readers of this particularly loathsome scheme on Feb. 12: “Fake funeral notice can be deadly—for your computer.”

The scam is simple: would-be victims get what appears to be a legitimate bereavement notice from a funeral home. When you click on the offered link, presumably to get information about the time and place of a given memorial service, you are instead routed to a foreign domain that installs all sorts of nasty malware onto your computer.

Unfortunately, online safety requires a level of vigilance that would be considered “unhealthy paranoia” in most offline contexts. For example: in real life, if a close friend or relative walks up to you and says “I'm in a bit of trouble; can you lend me a few bucks to tide me over?” it's unreasonable to think “This isn't really my close friend or relative; this is an impostor and master of disguise seeking to cheat me out of my money!”

But online, when a close friend or relative sends you an email asking for money, there's a very good chance it's actually a total stranger who hacked into somebody's email account and is now trying to scam everybody in the email address book. (That particular scam even has its own name – the “Grandma scam” – which in turn is merely a subset of what OnguardOnline dubs “impostor scams.”)

If you are grieving the recent loss of a loved one, protecting yourself from thieving scammers is the last thing on your mind. Unfortunately, the scammers are counting on that.

Share your Comments