CASE OF THE LIVING DEAD
Missouri Funeral Home Director Pleads Guilty to Faking Death Claims
elderly couple could hardly believe their ears. On the other end of
the line, their insurance company kept insisting they were dead. The
company's records showed they'd both died three months earlier, within
weeks of each other. It had already paid out nearly $16,000 for their
funerals. So began a bizarre case for the FBI and its partners...
the small town of Unionville, Missouri—just a few miles south
of the Iowa border—Roger Newman was killing off people by the
wasn't using a gun ... or a knife ... or any other murder weapon for
that matter. He was doing it all on paper.
you see, owned and operated a funeral home in Unionville. Bought
it in May 2001. The next month, he cooked up a devious (and illegal)
plan to fatten his wallet by pretending his clients were dead.
scheme involved what's called pre-need or pre-paid funeral planning
agreements. That's where people take out insurance policies
to pay for their eventual funeral expenses. When they die, the money
in their insurance fund goes either to their beneficiaries ... or right
to funeral home directors, who are often brokers in the deals.
had two ways of turning these agreements to his advantage:
1) He'd fake the death of his clients, submit all the paperwork to their insurance
companies, and pocket the payout. To make it work, he sometimes had to forge
the real beneficiaries' signatures and change the address on the policy to
2) When customers came to him to set up these pre-paid plans, Newman simply
took their money and never bothered to purchase the policy.
was a lucrative "business." Newman defrauded his
clients and the insurance companies out of more than $400,000 from
June 2001 to December 2003.
the Missouri couple put a stop to it. They reported the incident
to police. Early last month, after a joint investigation by the Putnam
County Sheriff’s office, the Missouri Attorney General’s
office, and our office in Kansas City, Newman pled guilty to five counts
of mail and wire fraud. He admitted filing fake death claims for 58
it's the Newman Funeral Home that's history. It was shut down
and auctioned off. And as part of his plea agreement, Newman lost his
embalming, funeral home, and director's licenses. Never again will
he be the grim reaper of insurance payouts.
to Protect Yourself from Common Fraud Schemes