Women Indicted in Fake Funeral Scheme
Posted: Tuesday, May 26th, 2009 at 3:20 pm
Los Angeles—Two women, a phlebotomist and a mortuary worker, have been charged in an insurance fraud scheme involving fake funerals.
Faye Schilling, 60, and Jean Crump, 66, are accused of having staged sham funerals in order to collect on life insurance policies. Authorities say the two purchased policies, waited for them to mature, and then held fake burials or cremations.
The identities of real people may have been stolen, and death certificates forged, although there were no actual bodies involved. In one instance, say investigators, the women held a funeral at a Long Beach mortuary, loading a casket with heavy items in order to make it seem as though it held a human body. They then purchased a cemetery plot, held a funeral, and buried the casket. Later, however, fearing that the ruse would be discovered, the women requested an exhumation and then filed paperwork claiming that the remains had been cremated and scattered at sea.
Schilling, a phlebotomist, and Crump, who works at a mortuary, are said to have received payments on life insurance policies and other funds totaling $1 million. Allegedly the women also garnered money from financing companies in order to pay for inflated funeral costs.
Additionally, Crump is said to have offered a $50,000 bribe to a doctor, so that he would verify a fake death certificate by lying on medical records.
The scam goes beyond these two women, however. Authorities say that two other women – Barbara Lynn, 54, a Los Angeles notary, and Lydia Eileen Pearce, 37, a mortuary owner from Long Beach – were also involved in the fraud and had already pleaded guilty on related charges. More arrests, the police added, would likely follow.
People who had been approached and asked to join the scheme reported the women to federal agents, who then began an investigation.
Crump and Schilling were released after posting $10,000 in bail. An arraignment is scheduled for April 23rd. Although neither Crump nor her attorney could be reached for comment, Schilling issues a statement on Wednesday after being contacted by the Los Angeles Times. In it, she called the indictment “a lie” and added that “That’s not my line of work, that’s not something I do.”
A special assistant to the U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles, Anthony Montero, said of the case, “The level of deception is shocking.”