Fraudulent funeral notice making rounds: BBB warns Calgary residents not to let your compassion coerce you into a condolence scam

February 20, 2014

February 20, 2013 – CALGARY, ALBERTA – All it takes is one easy click of the delete button to send email phishing scammers right to the trash file. As a result, scammers are using the phony front of a funeral notice to prey on the emotions and vulnerability of those grieving the loss of a loved one. BBB is warning Calgary and area residents of a fake funeral phishing scam.

How the scam works:

Targets receive an email with “funeral notification” as the subject line. Since scammers are using realistic looking logos, business names and email addresses, it can be easy to assume the email is legitimate. The message offers condolences on the recent passing of your “friend,” whose name is not specified. You are then prompted to click on a link for the details of the upcoming “life service celebration.” If you click on the link, you will be re-directed to a foreign domain, which acts as a gateway for scammers to install harmful malware onto your computer. If this happens, scammers could have access to the personal information stored on your device.

According to Get Cyber Safe, there are an estimated 156 million phishing emails sent every day, with the fraudulent funeral notice as the latest version.

President and CEO of Better Business Bureau Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay, Sandra Crozier-McKee, says due to the high volume of phishing emails sent on a daily basis, it can be easy to become a victim. “People receive countless emails each day, which is why scammers try to grab your attention with something as serious as the death of a loved one,” she says. “If no one in your family or circle of friends has passed then you should delete the email. But if by chance you have recently suffered the loss of a loved one, contact your friends and family about the funeral arrangements.”

BBB provides consumers with these common red flags of email phishing scams:

  • Don't believe what you see. As in the example above, scammers can easily copy a real business' colours, logo and even email address.
  • Hover over links to check their source. Place your mouse over hyper-linked text and the true destination will appear.
  • Be wary of unexpected emails that contain links or attachments. As always, do not click on links or open the files in emails unless you know sender and are expecting it.
  • Beware of pop-ups. Some pop-ups are designed to look like they've originated from your computer. If you see a pop-up that warns of a problem that needs to be fixed with an extreme level of urgency, it may be a scam.
  • Watch for poor grammar and spelling. Scam emails often are riddled with typos and usually indicate that English is not the writer’s primary language.
  • Ignore calls for immediate action. Scam emails try to get you to act before you think by creating a sense of urgency. Don't fall for it!
  • Update your antivirus. Regularly updating your security software will go a long way in protecting your computer should you happen to click on a malicious link.

For more consumer tips visit


Media Contact: 

Leah Brownridge
Marketing Communications Coordinator
Phone: (403) 531-8793

About BBB:

For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2014, people turned to BBB more than 165 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 4.7 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay, founded in 1954, is one of 113 local, independent BBBs across North America.

For more information, check out our About Us section.