TULSA, Okla. — Scammers may have sunk to a rock bottom low with a scheme preying on those grieving the loss of a loved one who died of COVID-19.
One widow is still too emotional to talk publicly about her husband's death, but she wants to warn others. Margaret told 2 Works for You, "I can't believe there are people out there who will cause even more pain for those who are already suffering so much."
The scam tries to piggyback off an actual government relief program from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which will pay up to $9,000 for funeral expenses that people have spent since January of 2020 for loved ones who died of COVID-19.
The program started just a few days ago, but FEMA said it had reports of scammers contacting people and offering to register them for assistance even before it began.
"I got a call from a person who said he could get the $9,000 to me quickly by getting me signed up on a priority list," Margaret said. "I just needed to give him some information about what account to send the money to."
FEMA and the Federal Trade Commission, which investigates scams, said, FEMA won't contact you until you have called them or applied for help. Anyone who contacts you out of the blue and claims to be a federal employee or FEMA is a scammer.
The government won't ask you to pay anything to get financial help. The feds won't call, text, email, or contact you on social media and ask for personal or financial information. They said don't give your or deceased loved one's information to anyone who contacts you out of the blue.
"It's just another way scammers are trying to separate people from their money and their personal information," said Colleen Tressler with the FTC.
Luckily, Margaret said her son suggested she talk to the funeral home before giving any information to the caller, which she did and found out it was a scam.
Margaret said, "Thank goodness," because it kept her from becoming a victim of COVID-19 for a second time.
For information on how to report a fraud, click here.
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