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A nickname for a kind of fraud or confidence game, more specifically a kind of bill fraud.

The Obit, (also known as The Obituary Con, The Obituary Racket, or The Obituary Game) is a relatively simple racket. The grifter reads the obituaries in the local paper and comes up with a list of marks, which is culled from the bereaved. Since obituaries often include this kind of information ("Hank Jeffers is survived by his wife Frieda and their two children Sam and Marshall"), this is often all the research that is necessary.

The racketeer, usually in an official-looking uniform, then delivers overpriced goods (or even dummy packages) to the victim, claiming that there is an amount due in general payment (C.O.D., postage due, delivery charges or a combination of these). A well-dressed delivery van, an official-looking invoice and other solid touches are often employed to add credulity to the scam.

The bereaved, who is likely to be vulnerable and feeling charitable, will generally feel compelled to follow through with the decedent's financial commitments and will pay the bill without doing too much checking, especially if the amount due is not too exorbitant. Since many large cities can publish hundreds of obituaries per day, it's possible to pull in an acceptable amount of money to live on running this racket alone.

The best targets are generally considered to be spouses who are elderly or moderately well-off. The elderly are notoriously gullible, whereas the moderately well-off are more likely to pay than the extremely wealthy or the average person. This is because the extremely wealthy often have a gauntlet of concierge, valets, secretaries or other such attendants who are paid to screen such requests. The average person is less likely to pay because he is more attached to his money.

While providing a box of rocks or other such dummy goods may be tempting to keep overhead down, it's obviously more likely to arouse suspicion. With a plausible "product" to deliver, the Obit can be run for weeks if not months.

O"bit (?), n. [OF. obit, L. obitus, fr. obire to go against, to go to meet, (sc.mortem) to die; ob (see Ob-) + ire to go. See Issue.]


Death; decease; the date of one's death.



A funeral solemnity or office; obsequies.


A service for the soul of a deceased person on the anniversary of the day of his death.

The emoluments and advantages from oblations, obits, and other sources, increased in value. Milman.

Post obit [L. post obitum]. See Post-obit.


© Webster 1913.

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