The past month has been fairly rough for Eubank Funeral Home in Canton, TX, a small city of about 3,500 residents located 60 miles east of Dallas.
But it’s not because business is slow; it’s because they were recently the victim of a common cyber-hijacking scam. A what?
Basically, this occurs when your website’s identity is hacked and is then used for a variety of unscrupulous activities. In this instance, the cybercriminals sent phishing emails to individuals all around the globe, complete with the alarming subject line of “Passing of your friend.”
Once opened, the emails appear to include the following text:
“For this unprecedented event, we offer our deepest prayers of condolence and invite to you to be present at the celebration of your friends life service on Friday, January 31, 2014 that will take place at Eubank Funeral Home at 11:00 a.m. Please find invitation and more detailed information about the farewell ceremony here.
Best wishes and prayers,
Funeral home receptionist,
(A variety of different names are used)"
The scammers purposely do not include the deceased individual’s name in order to pique your curiosity.
However, while the email may appear legitimate, once you click on the link to view your invitation, you’ll be asked to download a .zip file.
If you then decide to open this file, it will install malware onto your computer, which will give the scammers access any personal information stored there, including financial data, passwords, and more.
How Do You Avoid Becoming a Victim of a Fake Funeral Scam?
If you see an email similar to this in your inbox, the Better Business Bureau recommends that you delete it outright.
In addition, they recommend that you remain on the lookout “for scammers changing up this con. They may hijack a different funeral home’s name and/or change their message.”
If you’ve already opened a similar email or downloaded its attachment, you may want to run an anti-virus program to check for bad files.
Identifying and avoiding email scams takes diligence on your part, but is fairly easy to accomplish. While setting your email account’s spam filter to its highest security setting is often a great first step, here are some additional recommendations:
If you don’t know the sender, it’s usually best not to open the email.
One popular email scam is to hack into your account and to send emails from your address. With this in mind, if you receive an unexpected email from someone you know, but it contains an attachment, it may be a scam.
Many scam emails are generated in non-English speaking countries and often include poor spelling and grammar. This may even extend to the email’s subject line, which means you can possibly identify a scam without even having to open the email in the first place.
Cyber scammers often attempt to use your emotions against you, so that you’ll make a hasty decision before thoroughly thinking it through. Before you act, take a deep breath and learn more.
Have you received this email? Do you have any tips or tricks for avoiding email scams such as this? Let us know in the comments section.