WASHINGTON, Pa. (WTXF) - A Pennsylvania funeral home director is charged with stealing $340,000 from dozens of elderly clients over almost a decade, in part to support her gambling habit.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro says there may be even more victims, and there are ways to protect yourself.
Shapiro reports Lynn S. Taucher “collected advance payments from 49 clients to cover their funeral expenses at the Taucher Funeral Home” but investigators charged in a criminal complaint, “Instead of placing the money in individual escrow accounts as required by state law, Taucher co-mingled the funds with her personal finances and misappropriated her clients’ money.”
The 56-year-old from Burgettstown, Washington County -- which is south of Pittsburgh -- allegedly did that for nine-and-a-half years.
“This defendant betrayed dozens of elderly people who placed their trust in her,” Shapiro said. “Many of the victims here are frail, living on fixed incomes, and set aside this money so their funeral would not be a burden on their families. Instead, they were taken advantage of, and that’s wrong.”
He added, investigators believe there may be other victims and are encouraging any person who believes they or a loved one was scammed to call 412-565-2192.
Taucher is charged with 46 felony counts of theft by failure to make required disposition of funds, three misdemeanor counts of the same offense, and one count each of forgery and insurance fraud.
Some consumer protection tips to consider before planning any funeral are:
--Ensure the funeral home director provides an itemized cost statement for all services, including advance payments for outside vendors, such as obituary notices in newspapers.
--When making any advance payment, request the information on the escrow account and the financial institution where it is held to ensure your funds are properly deposited.
--Anyone with a complaint should contact the PA Funeral Home Directors Association or the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection at 800-441-2555.
--Make sure you review a general price list before signing any contract or agreement. Make sure to review that list against other price lists obtained from other funeral providers.