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Livingston County funeral director warns of new phone scam targeting grieving families

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Posted at 5:25 PM, Oct 04, 2023

LIVINGSTON COUNTY, Mich. (WXYZ) — Scammers recently targeted a grieving widow in Livingston County.

“The last thing you want is your family to be taken advantage of at a time of loss,” said Todd Borek, funeral director of Borek Jennings Funeral Homes.

Borek recently learned that one of his clients who recently lost her husband was almost scammed out of her money. He says a man contacted her earlier this week pretending to be an employee from his funeral home.

“They demanded payment by credit card because your arrangements were not paid in full, “ said Borek.

Fortunately, Borek’s client figured out something was wrong before giving up any money, but the scammer knew personal details about her.

“She said he had all the information — he knew my husband’s name, he knew my name, he knew the funeral home member name,” Borek added.

Borek says he believes the scammers got her information from her husband’s obituary which was posted online and in the local newspaper.

“So, they will find a funeral posting of somebody who passed and they'll do a couple of different things,” said Melanie Duquesnel, president of the Better Business Bureau. “They'll create a profile as if that person was still alive and try to go and capture money that way, or they'll go after the family and say, Hey, so-and-so owed us money. You need to pay that.”

Duquesnel says scams targeting funeral homes and grieving family members are very common.

“So what can funeral homes do? Just know where your information is going and share with the family that this kind of scam can happen. So if for whatever reason, somebody comes out of the woodwork and says, hey, your family member owes me $25,000, they'll know to be suspicious,” said Duquesnel.

Duquesnel says if you get a call that seems like a scam, call the funeral home you’ve been dealing with and check in with them. As for Todd Borek, he says it’s disheartening to know scammers are targeting people at the worst time of their lives.

“Families are experiencing loss all over the place and I just didn’t want this to happen to anyone else because the last thing to be the victim of a serial crime or extortion… can only amplify the loss experience,” said Borek.