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By: T. Scott Gilligan, OFDA General Counsel

Funeral homes from across the country have reported being bombarded by phone calls and e-mails by "consumers" looking to purchase cremation jewelry. Typically, the telephone calls are directed through a "hearing impaired" operator which is a service available to the deaf. We are not certain why the scam artists are directing their requests through hearing impaired operators, but it may be to cover their tracks or because they do not speak English very well.

Generally, the funeral home is requested to provide information regarding cremation jewelry. In some cases, the scam artist places an order for cremation jewelry without requiring any sales information from the funeral home. The funeral home is instructed to ship the jewelry to Nigeria and is given a credit card number. Orders have ranged from $2,000 up to $7,000.

Credit card numbers given to funeral homes by the scam artists have either been stolen or fictitious. We know that some funeral homes have submitted the numbers to Visa and Mastercard and received confirmation that the numbers are valid. However, subsequent investigation determined that the credit card numbers that have been initially approved were actually stolen. Therefore, in the few instances where funeral homes have unwittingly shipped cremation jewelry to Nigeria based on a purchase made from a credit card, it is highly likely that the funeral home will experience a chargeback in the next month or so when the theft of the credit card number is disclosed.

OFDA members are strongly urged to ignore and disregard any cremation jewelry orders from outside of the country, especially Nigeria. If a member receives a call, simply inform the operator it is a scam or simply hang up. Do not provide any information to the operator or the scam artist.

NFDA has alerted the FBI and U.S. Department of Treasury regarding this scam. Unfortunately, there is little they can do about it since it originates out of the country. OFDA members with questions regarding this matter, can contact Scott Gilligan at (513) 871-6332.

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