TikTok artist scammed three women out of their loved ones’ ashes | #whatsapp | #lovescams | #phonescams

Kari Ide wanted to do something beautiful in her mother’s memory, so the woman from Maryville, Tennessee, sent her mother’s ashes to an address in Woodstock, Georgia, after a TikTok artist said he’d incorporate the ashes into a painting – free.

It was December, and Ide thought the artist’s offer was aligned with the spirit of Christmas giving. They began lengthy conversations about her mom’s personality, colors and the design for the painting. 

A week later, she checked in with the artist, who went by the name Chad. He told her he got a big contract to work in Cambodia. Later that day, she got an alarming email. 

Kari Ide received this email purportedly from Cambodian customs demanding $3,576 in exchange for her mother’s ashes. It was a scam.
USA TODAY photo illustration

The subject line read, “PACKAGE CLEARANCE.” The Google email claimed to be from Cambodian customs and said that a package containing a portrait and ashes needed to be “cleared.”

If she wanted it, she’d have to pay $3,576.

It was a scam. Ide was heartbroken.

And she wasn’t alone. The hoax included two victims from other states, the real artist whose online identity had been stolen, and a Georgia man confused about why ashes began showing up at his door.

Also fooled – according to the victims – was the woman whose CashApp was being used to send money to the person possibly behind it all – a man in Nigeria. 

It’s unknown if there are more victims in this scam, but reports indicate scams have grown over time and affect every demographic of people. Though there are ways to protect yourself, advocates are calling on lawmakers to do more.

Kathy Stokes, director of fraud prevention at AARP
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