Authorities say there’s a new scam out there that targets grieving families in Los Angeles County.

In what’s being called an “obituary scam,” crooks scan death notices in the local newspaper and call the deceased’s relatives demanding money to pay off an unpaid debt, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Investigators say the thieves will target widows and widowers by posing as messengers, delivering items to their doorstep, claiming their late spouse made the purchase before that person died. Then they demand immediate payment.

Here are some tips on how to avoid those scams:

  • Put only necessary details in the obituary
  • Hang up on unsolicited calls
  • Do not accept any unknown items from messengers

For more information on scams that target seniors, visit the Elder Abuse/Financial Fraud pages of the District Attorney’s website at