Less detailed obituaries may reduce fraud

Edmonton Police advise they have investigated several cases related to obituary fraud

It’s the worst kind of opportunity crime, but having overly detailed obituaries may lead to fraud.

That’s the message the Edmonton Police Service hopes to get out to the public during Fraud Prevention Month.

“It’s an awful thing to have to think about when your loved one has just passed away,” says Det. Liam Watson with Northeast Division’s Criminal Investigation Section. “But unfortunately, information like a birth date or details about an employer may be all a criminal needs to steal your family member’s identity.”

Edmonton Police state they are investigating a July 2018 case where a suspect used obituary information to commit more than 110 instances of fraud.

It’s the information contained within the obituary that ends up helping suspects. Police say individuals typically use details intended to contact former employers, utility providers and other sources.

Read More: Cat-phishing tops list of Better Business Bureau’s 10 scams of 2018

“Through social engineering (such as deception and manipulation techniques), they are able to gain further personal details about the deceased and use this information to commit identity fraud.”

In 2018 police dealt with three other fraud cases related to obituary information. Those include that a condo was fraudulently rented using the deceased person’s name. The condo was subsequently abandoned and rent unpaid.

Read More: Rimbey home fraudulently advertised as rental property

In another instance the identity was used to sell a vehicle, get a telephone account and purchase a vehicle.

The third investigation involved the theft of the deceased person’s car, which had their wallet, driver’s licence, Alberta Health card, Social Insurance card, debit card and two cell phones.

“The individuals responsible were identified and charged with various fraud and identity theft related charges,” say police.

Edmonton Police advise following these steps to prevent fraud:

• When posting an obituary, do not use the day and month of birth of the deceased. Try not to include information on employment history or home address.

Read More: Ponoka News receives Canada Revenue phishing scam

If acting as an executor for an estate:

• Alert credit bureaus at the earliest opportunity, so a flag can be placed on the deceased’s profile.

• Alert Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and Service Canada, so a flag can be placed on the deceased’s social insurance number and CRA account.

• Inform the financial institutions used by the deceased, as well as utility providers, including cell phone provider.

• Monitor bank and utility account activity until they are closed.

• You may be asked to provide a copy of the certificate of death and a copy of the will identifying the executor to complete the above steps.

Other ways obituary information is used to commit fraud and other scams:

Grandparent scam – the fraudster contacts the surviving spouse and uses the name of one of the grandchildren listed in the obituary, as well as personal information they find on the grandchild’s social media sites or through internet searches.

Employment scam – through social engineering, the fraudster obtains the deceased’s personal information and uses it to acquire employment under the deceased’s name, thereby directing the income tax owed to the identity of the deceased.

Income/benefits fraud – the deceased’s identity is used to apply for senior’s benefits and pensions through the federal government or to redirect pensions or benefits the deceased was receiving to someone else.

Bank fraud – bank accounts, lines of credit and credit cards are opened in the deceased’s name.

Anonymous information can be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online at www.p3tips.com/250.

Just Posted

Ponoka RCMP arrest male with stolen vehicle and property

Christopher Hannah makes his first court appearance Oct. 25 in Ponoka

Bantam Broncs fall hard in Stettler

Team shutout by league’s top team

Red Deer-Lacombe candidate “thrilled” voters loved People’s Party of Canada platform

Laura-Lynn Thompson attended a results party at Sylvan Lake Golf and Country Club on Oct. 21

Blaine Calkins takes the seat for Red-Deer Lacombe

With 50 per cent of the riding counted, Calkins has over 21,000 votes

Trudeau has won the most seats — but not a majority. What happens next?

Trudeau will have to deal with some of the implications of Monday’s result

VIDEO: Is the stethoscope dying? High-tech options pose threat

World-renowned cardiologist believes the device is just a pair of ‘rubber tubes’

Alberta education minister releases new guidelines for school seclusion rooms

Adriana LaGrange says the new guidelines take effect on Nov. 1

United Conservatives to continue with NDP’s Alberta petrochemical credit program

Decision means the end of a $440-million loan guarantee announced by the NDP last January

Alberta finance minister says first budget to attack spending, not services

Premier Jason Kenney’s government has stressed that funding to health, education will be preserved

Calgary man found guilty in grandson’s death appeals manslaughter conviction

Allan Perdomo Lopez wants to challenge the nine-year prison sentence he was given last month

VIDEO: Chill with polar bears through an Arctic live cam

Cam reopens just ahead of Polar Bear Week

Wetaskiwin man allegedly flees police, faces numerous charges

Wetaskiwin RCMP and Camrose Police Service make arrests following alert from Edmonton Police Service

Mounties charge four people after protest at Alberta turkey farm

Three adults and 16-year-old girl charged with break and enter to commit mischief

Most Read