Fraudsters' Latest Scheme: Sending Fake Funeral Notices for Family, Friends

PHOTO: A coffin is seen at a cemetery in this undated stock photo.

Scammers have hit a "new low" with a burgeoning scheme that starts with a fake funeral notice for a loved one, the Federal Trade Commission warned.

The government consumer protection agency issued a warning that tricks people into clicking on links in emails that download malicious software, or "malware," such as viruses, to their computers.

"Scam artists are forever trying to trick people into clicking on links that will download malware to their computers," the FTC said in a statement issued on Wednesday. "But the latest scam takes the trick to a new low."

The bogus emails have a subject line that states "funeral notification," and it appears to be from a funeral home that offers condolences, sometimes a date for a service, and invites a reader to click on a link for more information about a "celebration of your friend's life service."

Read More: One-Call Scam: Returning Mystery Call Will Cost You $19.95

Then the website you visited downloads a virus or spyware onto your computer, causing it to crash or letting someone monitor your online activity. Malware can also be used to steal personal information, the FTC said.

The FTC's warning followed a statement from the National Funeral Directors Association that said some of the emails lift the name and logo off real funeral home websites to appear like legitimate communication.

Read More: New to The Mall: Caskets and Urns in Wild Styles

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