NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A grieving widow said a stranger requested her husband’s death certificate, and she believes a scammer was trying to get up to $9,000 from FEMA in COVID-19 funeral assistance money.
Gary Woodward was a charge nurse at Ascension Saint Thomas West Hospital, and he died from COVID-19. His story was shared across the country, and his wife Jacque Woodward, wanted the community to remember his sacrifice.
Woodward said, "It’s almost been 5 months, and it’s still hard for us, we try to do everything we can to remember him, in so many ways, and move forward, and then you have something like this... it’s terrible."
A couple days ago, she got a call asking why she requested Gary's death certificate to be sent to Texas. Woodward said, "and I said, I did not request that." Woodward said she's had his death certificate since December.
She believes a scammer wanted to use her husband's information to request funeral funding from the federal government. "Absolutely wrong,” Woodward said, “And to occur the week my husband would have celebrated his 65th birthday, and to have this on top of it, it’s just unacceptable that we would have people that would do this."
According to FEMA, there’s another scam ongoing right now where someone will call you, and say they’ll charge you a fee to help you sign up for funeral assistance money. Woodward said, "It’s appalling that people would want to do such a terrible thing to a family that’s grieving."
She called the fraud line to report what happened. "I would not want anyone to go through a scam," Woodward said. If you've been victim to a scam related to the funeral assistance program, call FEMA at 800-621-3362 or the National Center for Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721.
As they investigate, she wants other families to be aware. "I hope and pray this will bring to light what can happen to someone else, and hopefully it will end," Woodward said.
Jacque said she's now turning her efforts to something hopeful. She plans on starting a nursing scholarship in her husband's honor at Saint Thomas.