I know how generous and accommodating funeral directors are, and now, apparently, African scam artists do as well.

I just received this email:

Hello Dear,
My name is Randal Lane, Could you please quote me as per what it would cost to repatriate my late loved brother from Africa back to Country?
His remains is currently in Hometown Mortuary, located at western part of Africa Nigeria (Lagos Island) His name is John Thuan, the mortuary’s phone # is (234-8088855440) and the mortuary’s email address is (hometown.mortuary@hotmail.com)
Could you please make the arrangement as fast as possible.
Best regard,
Randal Lane Thuan

This is almost an exact replication of the “I want to buy your product” scam letter that’s been hitting various businesses.  Of course, this one makes a much bigger impact, because there seems to be no request for money or bank account information.

But be warned, email and fax scammers like this have evolved tactics.  The old “we’ve got $10,000,000 US” fax and email stopped working because people were informed about it.  This is more deceitful and more likely to cause you issues.

Consider, if you call this person (a very expensive, long distance call) or converse by email, what assurances do you have that you’re speaking with a funeral director or that there is even a body to be shipped?

Most likely, the “funeral director” will require you to pay certain fees for the family of the deceased or pay “embassy fees” at the airport when you pick up the “body.”  Will it be a real casket, or just a casket shaped box with some rocks in it?

Odds are, the charade will not go on that long, since the scammers want to make the most money possible in the shortest time.

By now, one of you readers has asked yourself, “But what if it’s legitimate?”

That’s a valid point.  So let’s consider the facts:

– The letter writer has an email address of randal.lane@hotmail.com.  Hotmail is a free email account service, which scammers use to mask their true identity.

– I received the email twice, coming two minutes apart.  This suggests that someone was sending out multiple requests and either forgot that I’d already been contacted or that my email address was duplicated in the scammers database.

– The email starts “Hello Dear”, the same way most of the other scam emails from Nigeria begin.  I doubt that Randal thinks I’m his “dear.”

– The mortuary email address (hometown.mortuary@hotmail.com) is formatted just like the address for the sender.  Plus, it’s a Hotmail account, same as the sender.

– The writer did not make contact by phone. 

– The writer doesn’t say where he is or where in the U.S. the body should go. 

Don’t be fooled by the fact that a funeral-related request was sent to your email address.  If you’ve ever published your address on a website that deals with funeral service, or if you have a website for your funeral home that lists an email address, you have already given scammers your address.

Sophisticated computer programs can scour the Internet, looking for industry sites and any email addresses that may be posted and then sends the email immediately.

How do I know that this has happened here?  I don’t run a funeral home any longer and the email came to my address that I only use for the Final Embrace blog.