12 OYS: Grieving mom targeted by scammers using her daughter's obituary

By: Jerome Collins Email
By: Jerome Collins Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock / June 5, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Obituaries are not only a way to memorialize a loved ones death. They are also a way of letting family and friends, and even the public know about someone's life. Now some con artists are cashing in on it.

"I unlocked the door and she was laying on the sofa. I called her and she didn't move, and she was gone," said Annie Davis. It has been a year and a half since Davis came home to find her daughter Angelia Edwards dead. "That was my only child," said Davis.

While memories are all she has now, Davis said she received a painful reminder on Tuesday, after getting a phone call from someone claiming to be a debt collector.

"They have not sent you a summons because they want to pull you into court because of fraud," said Davis. The caller told Davis that her daughter had failed to pay off a loan, and that Davis co-signed it, and is now responsible for coughing up the cash.

"I said I haven't co-signed for anyone," said Davis.

To settle the $600 debt, Davis said she gave the caller her credit card information, including the 3 digit security code on the back. Then she said she called a relative.

"She said Ruth, this sounds like fraud. Call Channel 12," said Davis.

She did that, and we went to work. We first instructed Davis to cancel her card quickly. Our digging found that Davis was targeted by obituary scammers. These con artists troll the Internet, looking for death notices. Then they find surviving relatives and access their phone numbers and addresses online.

We showed Davis how easy it was to find information about her on Google. "They had access to all of this? Oh my Lord, look at that," said Davis.

We called the scammers, but when we told them we were investigating them, they hung up. Davis said she can't understand why anyone would be this hurtful. "That's just cruel, and they don't care about the sentimental feelings or anything," said Davis. She is fortunate she canceled her card before losing any money.

Meanwhile, these obituary scammers can also scan a death notice to find out the date of a funeral. So, while everyone is at the service, they could be looting your home.

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