Security guru warns people to be aware of obituary scammers

You really can’t hate scammers enough. Rather than get honest work and provide valuable, important services to others, they have created a new scam targeting grieving people.

Online pirates are using artificial intelligence to scrape data from the internet, then using that information to build fake obituary websites.

According to Fox News, the scammers are exploiting information of someone who is deceased in order to steal money from their victims.

“These scammers specifically target kind-hearted individuals who are still alive and willing to assist grieving families,” the article noted.

According to Kurt Knutsson, the owner of CyberGuy Report, scammers launch their scheme by monitoring Google search trends to determine when people are searching for obituaries after someone has died. Then, once they see who has passed away, the scammers create bogus obituaries using data stolen from legitimate memorial websites, such as those operated by funeral homes.

Next, the scammers optimize these pages using SEO tactics so that the scammer’s page ranks at the top of the list when someone searches for a specific person’s obituary page, Fox News reported.

For example, success guru Dan Miller, who authored “48 Days to the Work You Love,” died in January. A search for his obituary online yields a lot of results, some of which are likely scams. See if you can spot an illegitimate site:

That’s when the real nastiness starts. When victims click on a fake link, they are redirected to a different website where they must complete a CAPTCHA prompt to gain access. Doing so instantly installs software on the device the person is using. That program then either sends push notifications to the phone or ensures an endless stream of pop-up ads.

Even worse, the software may give victims a false alert that their systems have been infected by a virus, and then trick users into installing more malware. Those programs can be very annoying and difficult to remove. Even worse, the malware can take over a device, scramble the data, and hold it hostage until a ransom is paid.

According to Kurt, there are two primary reasons why spammers are creating fake obituary sites. They are:

  • The scammers get money from legitimate software companies which reward the crooks for their “referrals.”
  • There are advertisements on the fake obituary page for which the scammers receive money every time the ad is viewed.

Kurt said there are some things people can do to protect themselves from bereavement scams. First, look for fake websites, such as,, and

People can also look for overly-descriptive words in the obituary or an impersonal tone. That’s a sign the obituary was written by artificial intelligence, especially if there are typos or grammatical errors in the wording.

Kurt encourages people not to click on links for individuals they don’t know. If you think you know the person, then click on a link provided from the original source, such as a social media post, rather than searching for the person’s obituary online.

If you are ever in doubt, call a family member directly for more information. Not only is it an opportunity to offer your condolences, but if it is a scam, you give the family the ability to alert others to what is happening.

The original story can be found on Fox News.