Green Country Family Says They're Victims Of Pre-Paid Funeral Fraud

Monday, October 10th 2011, 10:00 pm
By: News On 6

Ashli Sims, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- A grief-stricken Green Country family recently discovered they might be victims of fraud.

They pre-paid thousands of dollars for funeral services, but when their loved one died, they found out the money wasn't there.

Jennifer Meyer says her grandfather, Weldon Holbrook, was the center of her family's universe.

"It's extremely heart wrenching to watch my grandmother who was married for 62 years to lose essentially the love of her life," Meyer said.

But this beloved patriarch prepared for this time. Holbrook bought a pre-paid funeral plan from Kennard Funeral Homes back in 2006.

Since then Kennard Funeral homes has changed hands and names a couple of times. But right up until Weldon Holbrook's death, his family believed everything was in order.

"Only found out when they went to the funeral home the next day to bring him clothes, that they did not have their contracts. And not only did they not have their contracts they were wanting them to pay more money," she explained.

News On 6 spoke with the current funeral home owner. And he says he's a victim too. He says he's paid tens of thousands of dollars to make up for what the previous owner did.

According to court records, John Amis owned Amis-Kennard Funeral Services from January 2005 to November of 2007, and he confessed to fraudulently collecting pre-paid burial insurance claims on 14 people.

He's accused of taking money from those people, purchasing pre-paid burial insurance, then faking death certificates to collect the benefits.

"Most of the funeral home directors are above board and reputable folks. But we've had certain instances like the one you're investigating where we have someone find out at the worst possible time that the money is not there," said John Doak, Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner.

Doak says his department regulates funeral homes and prepaid plans. He says if you've had any dealings with Amis-Kennard, you need to contact his office.

"Let us begin the process because we cannot help them if we don't know about it," he said.

To make matters worse for this family, Jennifer Meyer says her grandmother also has one of these pre-paid policies from this same company.

"My grandmother really hasn't had time to really mourn the loss, because she's worried that when she passes away this is going to happen again," Meyer said.

The Oklahoma Funeral Board says the current owner Tom Kennedy is in good standing. He said he's tried to honor some of these pre-paid plans bought before he took over the business, but that's almost ruined him financially.

He declined to go on camera based on advice of his attorney. Previous owner, John Amis, is being prosecuted for four counts of fraud. His attorney didn't return calls.

If you're concerned about your prepaid funeral... call the insurance department's toll free number at 800-522-0071.