May’s Funeral Home Targeted by Phone Spoofing

By Lura Jackson

 

If you’ve gotten an unexpected call lately from May’s Funeral Home, it’s probably not because there’s been an unknown death. The city’s premier funeral parlor, located on Church Street, is among the victims of a recent “spoofing” campaign that has affected many members of the community. Perpetrators of spoofing attacks hijack the number and name of a business or person using special software and then proceed to call residents that live nearby with that number to get them to answer the phone. The perpetrators then typically try to sell something to the person that unwittingly answers, thinking that – in this case – they are about to the speak to the funeral home.

“It’s upsetting for people to get a call on the caller ID from a funeral home,” said May’s employee Anthony Giard. “We think it’s especially insensitive of these people to do it with our number.”

Giard said that the funeral home received numerous calls from community members that had been called by the spoofed number. “We had two days where it was very active, but thankfully it seems to have slowed down,” Giard said. Community members for the most part understood that it wasn’t May’s making the calls and they were mainly calling to ensure that the funeral home is aware. According to community members that answered the phone, it was a live representative trying to sell a product. 

Unfortunately, after researching the law related to spoofing attacks, Giard reported that the person that has been spoofed is unable to file a lawsuit or criminal charge against the spoofers. However, people that have received a call from the spoofers (using May’s name) can file charges if they desire. 

The funeral home contacted Fairpoint security to determine if the phone company could assist them in any way, but the response was not promising. “They said there’s nothing they can do on their end,” Giard stated. “They said the best solution is to just wait because usually the telemarketers will move on after a time.”

May’s isn’t the only victim of spoofing. Giard said that the home itself has received calls that appear to be from local names and numbers but are in fact telemarketers that have spoofed the numbers. After posting about their situation on Facebook, another community member replied that it had happened to them, too – and in fact they even called themselves one day!

“The most we can do is let businesses and residents know that it is happening,” said Chris Scott of the Calais Police Department. “Most of it happens outside our jurisdiction to begin with. Even when the victim is in Maine the crime is perpetrated outside of Maine.”