Scamming bereaved parents


The lowest form of life is a scammer that scams parents who’ve just lost a child. These are the ones that Richmond, VA moms including me have experienced.

My advice is that if you have a friend that has lost a child, step in and help where you can because it’s unlikely parents are thinking straight.

1. Holding your child’s body hostage

Never having lost a child, or anyone really, I had no idea how to choose a cremation home. I asked a friend who had been through a death recently, and I couldn’t remember the whole name, only the first letter when I googled it (grief brain). We didn’t have access to much cash at that time due to having spent so much to help our son with addiction and depression. So we were looking for something within our budget but also a local company. What we didn’t know is that the local company we called had recently sold to a Florida outfit due to financial issues and that Florida company got the local license in the deal. I am not sure exactly how it happened to be honest but the fact is they had a license in Virginia still.

It turned out to be a shady funeral company who quoted one price and kept adding things despite having sent a list. They were largely unresponsive and it turns out the person we were dealing with was in Florida while the funeral home was local.  We uncovered an industry racket here. But in short, we decided to pass on doing business with them. But guess what? They had the body. And they would not release it without a ransom despite the fact they were largely unresponsive.

They started by asking for thousands and my friend who felt responsible (she was as distraught as I was) got them down to $500 which we did have to pay in order to get the body with a reputable funeral home locally. That was the transport fee. This happened days after our son died by suicide.

2. Identity theft

Once you lose a child, there is a social security number available for scammers to steal. Some people don’t find out for years. Some do right away. It’s a pain in the neck to deal with all the crap with the IRS not to mention the heartache of having your late son or daughter’s identity stolen.

3. Robbing your house during the memorial/funeral service

This is quite common.

Crooks scan the newspaper obituaries that list memorial services and then hit that home while everyone is at the service. How low is that? My friends arranged for someone to come house sit while we were at the memorial service so there would be someone in our home to prevent this from happening. I had never heard of this.

Thank goodness someone had because when I talked with my client at Richmond Alarm about a month after Charles’ service, one of their sales reps told me a story of someone whose house was robbed while they were at the funeral.

4. Selling you things you don’t need or for more than it’s listed for

You think you get a good deal because someone feels bad for you? Make sure it’s someone you really trust because for the most part, it’s an opportunity to take advantage. Grieving parents are decision-impaired and will often make emotional or impulsive choices. From a new property or even buying a new car, you can easily be taken advantage of.

Crooks target seniors, they target grieving parents because we are easy prey. Just beware and think on everything overnight. No impulsive decisions.

To my grieving parents. When someone is asking, “What can I do?” ask those friends their opinion on big decisions. Or take one of them with you.

Do you know about other scams? If so, make a comment here so other grieving families can be warned.

Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am an emotionally naked mental health speaker, and author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk. I raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost my younger son, Charles to addiction and suicide on June 5, 2015. I help people foster a culture of connection to prevent suicide, reduce substance misuse and find life after loss. My motivational mental health keynotes, training and workshop topics include suicide prevention, addiction, mental illness, anxiety, coping strategies/resilience, and grief. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory. Mental Health Speakers Website. Trained in ASIST and trainer for the evidence-based 4-hour training for everyone called safeTALK.

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