Bob Irish

From Bob Irish, editor, Retirement Insider: The funeral for Douglas Devos was lavish…

Tranquility Funeral Home and Crematorium billed—and received—$51,186. The bill included:

  • $14,021 for a mausoleum
  • $8,210 for a casket
  • $3,195 for a horse and carriage
  • $2,385 for three 22-passenger limos
  • $1,400 for eight police escorts
  • $795 for embalming for public viewing
  • $480 for a newspaper notice.

Just one problem. That funeral never happened.

Doug Devos was cremated. His partner, Leonora Hanchett, has his ashes. She also has a receipt for a lot less than $51,186. The receipt reads “Direct cremation, no viewing.”

Ms. Hanchett claims the funeral home falsified an assignment of Mr. Devos’ life insurance policy. The life insurance company should have paid Hanchett that $51,186.

Instead, the money went to Tranquility. Tranquility’s owners have yet to be located.

  Scams abound in the death care business…

Prepaid funeral frauds top the list. National Prepaid Services (NPS), for example, sold prepaid funerals to 97,000 people in 19 states. But it was a $450 million Ponzi scheme. Many victims are just finding out that what they thought they bought no longer exists.

Even if you’re able to spot outright fraud and ignore the spiel of the “pre-need” funeral salesman, you need to be careful. The death care industry has plenty of other ways to separate you from your money.

In my latest Wealth Stealers installment—“The High Cost of Dying”—we give you the full lowdown on funeral costs and offer tips on how to avoid getting ripped off.

Wealth Builders Club members can click here to read it.

For everyone else, the Funeral Consumers Alliance has a great website to help facilitate this conversation. It’s a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting a consumer’s right to choose a meaningful, dignified, and affordable funeral.