Police are warning about a new phone scheme. Con artists are calling grieving families telling them they owe money to cover the cost of a loved one’s funeral.
Channel 2′s Tom Regan was in Cherokee County Tuesday, where two families who recently hired Darby’s Funeral Home to conduct services were targeted by crooks.
Police say the suspects used the web to get information to contact them.
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Amy Cobb says her beloved father-in-law, Charles Cobb Jr., died suddenly on Aug. 21. He was an Air Force veteran, lawyer and a real estate agent.
A couple of days later, she got a call from someone claiming to be a representative of Darby Funeral Home. He said they needed a $1,500 down payment for planned funeral services.
Cobb said she asked the caller how he wanted the money, and he wanted it through Zelle, which Cobb didn’t have.
“He got an answer for every question you give,” Cobb said. “When I called the funeral home, they said, ‘We would never ask for money,’ and I called the man back and he said ‘Darby’s Funeral Home.’”
Darby’s, which has been conducting funerals for decades, says this is the first time client families have been targets of con artists.
“They go to our obituary sites and find the next of kin. Then they use apps to find their phone number and they call them at home,” funeral director Earl Darby said.
He says the con artists prey on people emotionally consumed by grief and more inclined to fall victim to phone schemes.
“I can’t believe you’re calling me two days after I buried my mom at 7:30 in the evening asking for money,” victim Mike Stallings said.
That’s what Stalling told the man who called, saying he owed Darby’s Funeral Home $500 for an excessive refund of his mother’s pre-paid funeral service.
He too called Darby’s and was told the call was bogus.
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The funeral director says never to send payment through a Cash App for a funeral expense, and if you get a strange call asking for payment, call the funeral home directly to discuss any finances.
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