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Former Funeral Director charged with Defrauding-YourFuneralGuy

17 Jan
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 20:  Funeral director Pete...
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A former Funeral Director in Michigan has been charged with defrauding Customers. In this case The director not only hurt the families that bought preneed or prepaid policies he also hurt the former business owner of the Funeral Home.

This serves as a warning to those who want to exit the funeral industry and the need to check out who and how they dispose of their business.

Mr. Prochnow had purchased the business portion of the Bennett Funeral Home on S. Dixie Hwy. just south of Albain Rd. in 2006 from Darrell Bennett, who retired with his wife to Florida after selling the business.
But Mr. Bennett, now 78 years old, said monthly payments were not paid and he discovered other payments for services were ignored. Over the past several years, he said he personally lost a total of about $325,000 to bad business. When he returned from Florida this summer to take over operations, the company was in shambles.
Mr. Bennett said the building was not properly cared for — there wasn’t hot water — and the vehicles, including the hearse and limousine, were being repossessed though he had paid them off 10 to 15 years ago.
“I can never imagine anything of this magnitude ever happening,” Mr. Bennett said. “It’s put me in the biggest hole I’ve ever been in my lifetime.”
In addition to accusations of stealing money from Mr. Bennett, Mr. Prochnow has been charged with accepting prepaid funeral payments and using the money for his own benefit.


This shows that just taking a bank note may not be the best strategy, may not be the best strategy in exiting the funeral business- in an age of Funeral industry decline, when profits are down and cremation is on the rise.

Funeral industry| Funeral News | funeral blog by Your Funeral Guy

This article presents one more reason as to why one should not purchase funeral preneed or aprepaid funeral.

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Your Funeral Guy in Dow Jones Newswires

22 Dec
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Your Funeral Guy has been Featured in the Dow Jones NEWSWIRE  Prepaid Funerals Like Digging Your Own Grave 

December 2, 2010 9:16 a.m. EST


R. Brian Burkhardt is a funeral director in Illinois and Virginia who writes a blog called “Your Funeral Guy.”

It’s filled with handy consumer tips, as is his book, “Rest in Peace, Insider’s Look at the Low Cost Less Stress Funeral.”

Burkhardt also covers the funeral news:

“Mom fakes daughter’s funeral.”

“Father sues after son’s body falls out of casket.”

“Corpses to appear on cigarette packages.”

And, “Unclaimed cremated remains: A growing problem.”

One of the biggest stories on the funeral beat these days involves a St. Louis, Mo., company called National Prearranged Services Inc. and its related businesses operating in several states from Illinois and Ohio to Tennessee and Texas.

Federal prosecutors last week unveiled a 50-count indictment burying six controlling officials in assorted criminal charges: money laundering, conspiracy and wire, bank, mail and insurance fraud.

Defendants are Doug Cassity, 64; his son, Brent Douglas Cassity, 43; Howard Wittner, 73; Randall Sutton, 65; Sharon Nekol Province, 66; and David Wulf, 58.

The indictment alleges they took as much as $600 million that should have gone into trusts and life-insurance policies to cover as many as 150,000 funerals.

“White-out was the main tool,” Burkhardt said. “It’s sounds blastedly simple, but that’s what they did.”

Indeed, one of the many tricks alleged in the federal indictment is altering documents with correction fluid.

Money that should have gone into trusts or to pay life-insurance premiums for the funeral plans were diverted to pay for business investments, luxury homes and jewelry, the Feds allege. A Ponzi scheme for the dead?

Toni Weirauch, special agent in charge of IRS-criminal investigations in St. Louis, said his office “is committed to investigating individuals who allegedly use their businesses as personal piggy banks.”

The losses will go to state insurance guarantee associations, plan purchasers and funeral homes.

Connie James of James and Gahr Mortuaries in St. James, Mo., said her family-owned funeral business put all of its prepaid funeral funds with the company.

A state fund likely will get stuck with most of the tab for the prepaid services her company has contracted to provide, but not all of it. Some of the losses will be hers.

“You just pray every day that you’re going to be here tomorrow,” James said.

She has a name for defendant Doug Cassity, who went to federal prison in the early 1980s for charges stemming from his investment club.

“He is the Bernie Madoff of Missouri,” she said.

She wonders how so blatant an alleged fraud could have gone on for so long in an industry that is supposed to be regulated. Cassity’s criminal past, and issues with underfunded trusts dating back to the 1990s, didn’t set off the alarms until the shortfall was enormous.

“$600 million. That’s a lot of damn funerals,” James said.

National Prearranged Services sold folks on the idea that they could pay today’s prices for tomorrow’s funeral services. Say you put $5,000 down now, and if the funeral you want costs $15,000 due to future inflation, no problem.

“Any product that says, ‘We will cover you no matter how much your prices increase’ is too good to be true,” said Scott Gilligan, general counsel of the National Funeral Directors Association in Brookfield, Wisc.

“That should have been everybody’s first clue,” he said, “because nobody can do that.”

Burkhardt said he’s been warning consumers not to buy prepaid funeral plans for years. “It’s better to a get term life insurance policy and apply that money to the funeral,” he said.

He also says the scale of the National Prearranged Services case shows how easily prepaid funeral funds are diverted, and how long it can take regulators to do something about it.

“Every week, somebody misappropriates pre-need funds, and every two to three weeks somebody gets caught,” Burkhardt said.

“I have had a funeral director tell me, “When I can’t meet my payroll, I just borrow from the pre-need fund.” That’s fraud. But in their minds, it’s kind of their money.”

Burkhardt said he suspects business will go on as usual, despite the news he covers on his blog. Reading up on prearranged funeral plans isn’t something folks always do before they buy.

“People don’t want to talk about death,” he said. “You almost have to trick your mind to think about it. That’s why people buy these plans.”

–(Al’s Emporium, written by Dow Jones Newswires columnist Al Lewis, offers commentary and analysis on a wide range of business subjects through an unconventional perspective. The column is published each Tuesday and Thursday at 9 a.m. ET. He can be reached at 212-416-2617 or by email at, or on his blog at

(We invite readers to send us comments on this or other financial news topics. Please comment on Al Lewis’ blog at We reserve the right to edit and publish your comments along with your name; we reserve the right not to publish reader comments.)

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Funeral Industry| Funeral News| Funeral blog by Your Funeral Guy

Due to my stint in ICU and hospitalization it took some time to get this article up.

YOUR FUNERAL GUY HAS BEEN Featured in the Dow Jones News Wires. Your Funeral Guy is quoted but other opinions are mentioned.

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National Prearranged Services Executives Indicted-Your Funeral Guy

23 Nov
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National Prearranged Services  (NPS) Executives have been indicted. These are responsible for 600-100 million dollars of preneed insurance funds.

ST. LOUIS | Officers at a prearranged funeral business defrauded customers, funeral homes and states out of as much as $600 million, according to a 50-count federal indictment announced Monday.

The U.S. attorney’s office in St. Louis announced indictment on fraud, money laundering, conspiracy and other charges against Randall Sutton, 65; Sharon Nekol Province, 66; Doug Cassity, 64; his son Brent Douglas Cassity, 43; Howard Wittner, 73; and David Wulf, 58.

All six defendants are from St. Louis County, and all were controlling officers for National Prearranged Services Inc., based in Clayton.

Brent Cassity is listed in the Missouri secretary of state’s office as the owner of Mount Washington Forever Funeral Home in Independence, which closed in July.


This is an incriminate story preneed  funeral theft and fraud. Incredibly the main tool in this incredible insurance theft were bottles of white out.

Officers of this company are now part of the criminal Lawsuit.

Funeral Industry| Funeral News | funeral Blog by Your Funeral Guy

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Presenting Funeral Options is selling-YourFuneralGuy

9 Nov
Shop window of a funeral director in France
even if you choose cremation you usually buy an urn!Image via Wikipedia

Presenting funeral options is selling. Connecting appears to be at it again. He says that presenting funeral options is not selling. No matter how you cut Funeral Arrangements involve Selling.

Funeral Contracts involve funeral goods and services an arrangement conference for a funeral involves a sale.

It appears that the webmaster at who is not a funeral director is continuing his rationalizations about the ethos of Funeral Directors.

The writer of the following Boston Herald article total puts a black eye on funeral directors and in my opinion is way out of line. I have never talked to a funeral director who “sells” or tries to “sell” a family anything. Presenting options to a family is not selling. I would love to read your comments on the following article:


More on the Connecting Directors situation  Click here:



The articled referred to is the Boston Herald article in the previous post.

Saying he has never talked to a funeral director who sells or tries to sell anything. is an irrational thought. The webmaster is a Wilbert Vault salesman! Can you have  to a funeral without purchasing a casket, cremation container, or shroud or a method to dispose of a body.

Funeral Industry| funeral News| Funeral Blog by your Funeral Guy

It is my opinion Websites like connecting harm the funeral consumer by presenting lies about funerals. As I see it, the advertisers continue the exploitation of the funeral consumer by bringing on new ways for the funeral director to take your money.

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Your Funeral Guy Exclusive|California Funeral Directors Association Scandal

9 Jul

Your Funeral Guy First reported on the California Funeral Directors Association(CFDA) on January 7th, 2010. Click Here for the report.

Now that the scandal has received local coverage in California we can report on this matter more fully because my research has been verified by a State Audit. The scandal is quite similar to the Illinois Funeral Directors Association Scandal. Right now the dollar amount is less than The IFDA Preneed Trust Scandal. That could change.

Early audits in the IFDA Preneed trust scandal did not reveal the extent of the problem. Later on Gross Misappropriation of the Folks Money was discovered. The current situation involves the California Master Trust.

Now that there is  a second maor Funeral directors association scandal the national media may take note.

Do Not Hold your Breath.

The audit was the first to find systematic problems with a funeral trust fund(California), Wallinder said. Typically, auditors find problems involving individual funeral homes or trusts set up for individual consumers, he said.

In this case, the department ordered the trust’s governing board to return more than $2 million that was spent on lobbying and conventions for the California Funeral Directors Association. Some of the money already has been paid back, auditors said.

The audit also found the trust failed to pay at least $1.6 million it owed to consumers, their estates or the state treasury in cases where funeral homes went out of business or families paid for funeral services because they didn’t know their loved one had a prepaid plan.


Funeral industry|Funeral News|Funeral Blog by Your Funeral Guy

MLB Baseball player Pitching up a Preneed funeral scam-Your Funeral Guy

26 Apr

Baseball Hall of Famer Andre Dawson is involved in a Preneed Funeral Scam

A baseball Legend Named Andre Dawson, owns a Funeral Home in Miami that  is not honoring Preneed or Prepaid Funerals. Dawson and his brother purchased the Funeral home along with it’s contracts. Because a former owner did not deposit and pocketed pre need funds Contracts for PRE NEED Funerals are not being allowed to stand! When Dawson purchased the funeral home he also bought and now owns the contracts.

This all sounds terribly familiar and similar to the Illinois Funeral Directors Association, and the National Prearranged Services Prepaid Funeral Scams.

A publicly funded organization that cares for poor and disabled adults is suing Miami baseball legend Andre Dawson, alleging that his family’s funeral home business reneged on a deal to provide prepaid memorial services and burials for deceased clients.

One man’s corpse lay in limbo for weeks because Dawson’s Grace Memorial Funeral Home refused to accept the remains, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. via miami herald

The plaintiff  in this lawsuit is the  Guardianship Program of Dade County, a nonprofit agency funded by the county and state that acts as a public guardian for poor adults- Dawson is refusing to honor pre need or prepaid funeral contracts sold by the previous owners.

Dawson, a Hall of Fame outfielder who played for the Expos, Cubs, Red Sox and Marlins, did not return a phone call seeking comment. But his brother insisted that their company did not break an existing contract because the prepaid funerals and cemetery plots were sold illegally by a previous owner. “We are victims and just as innocent” as the Guardianship Program, Brown told The Miami Herald. via miami herald

The risk of purchasing funeral preneed is always the same, the funeral director or someone along the way may simply take your money.

Funeral Industry|Funeral News|Funeral Blog by Your Funeral Guy

Illinois Funeral Directors Association Lawsuit|News|Your Funeral Guy

16 Apr

There have been recent developments in the Illinois Funeral Directors Association Ponzi Scheme. The IFDA thinks they are going to have a new  trustee. Now let us put this in perspective. The Association has been trying to get an approved permanent trustee  for the IFDA Preneed trust for 3 years  since 2007, it has not happened. What makes them think it is going to happen now? A new trustee would have to be approved by a regulator. The Illinois Funeral Directors Association has a  long history of  not cooperating with the regulators in their state.

The new folks the IFDA are proposing to be the trustee is Fiduciary Partners Inc. This is much smaller outfit than Merrill Lynch and is located in Appelton, Wisconsin.

Six Illinois Funeral Directors are suing the Illinois Funeral Directors Association

The six funeral directors suing the IFDA,  have filed an amended complaint around the the Illinois Department of Insurance’s Revised Consent order on a $18 Million dollar  settlement between the State of Illinois and Merrill Lynch. As one may expect the lawsuiting Funeral Directors do not want a limit on amy potential settlement You will not find any sympathy here for  the six Illinois funeral Directors suing the IFDA in Calvert Funeral Homes LLC et al. These folks only complained  and filed  their lawsuit when the Trust Fund Tanked  and they were not receiving their high commissionson the Pre need Trust Funds

In the past week, there were two new developments involving the Illinois Funeral Directors Association Preneed Trust Fund. First, six Illinois funeral directors have filed additional counts to their class action complaint in Chicago Circuit Court challenging a revised consent order issued by the Department of Insurance which amounts to an $18 million settlement between the state and Merrill Lynch Life Agency for its role in the state’s ongoing preneed trust fund debacle. The complaint calls the order ambiguous and said it raises more concerns than the original document that was declared unlawful earlier this year. Also, the IFDA is recommending Fiduciary Partners Inc. as a new trustee of its preneed trust fund, essentially replacing Merrill Lynch Bank & Trust Co. as interim trustee.


IFDA lost, stole, misappropriated 100 million of the folks funeral money in the State of Illinois

Note the Memorial Business Journal is a Publication targeted at Funeral Directors and does not publish with  both the  funeral consumer and the funeral director in mind. The premier place in the world that does that are the Your Funeral Guy Blogs.

Funeral Industry Funeral News Funeral  Blog by Your Funeral Guy

Your Funeral guy has been blogging on the Illinois Funeral Director Scandal Since 2007 . Between February 2008 and January 2009 Your Funeral Guy was the only one reporting on this scandal.