Money Watchers: Casket scam - News, Weather and Classifieds for Southern New England

Money Watchers: Casket scam

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Clarence Corter thought he put his funeral worries to rest after buying a casket from Celestial Burials.

The 30-year-veteran found the advertisement in the VFW magazine.

"We ordered a casket with the Air Force insignia on it, and then we ordered one for me too because they were less expensive," said Betty Corter.

When Clarence Corter died several years later, Betty Corter called Celestial Burials.

"We called the funeral home to let them know the casket would be shipped to them in 24 hours," she said.

But when Betty Corter's family arrived at the funeral home she said Clarence Corter was lying on a table.

Betty Corter and her children had to pay an additional $3,500 for a casket.

But some families can't afford to buy a casket on the spot. Some funeral homes agree to front services at the risk of never being paid back.

Funeral directors advise for people to do research.

"With the advent of the technology we have today, the Internet and word of mouth, has anybody else done business with these people, are they people of their word. That is the crux of any business," said Joseph Lapinski, funeral director.

Postal inspectors said 5,000 victims lost more than $2.4 million to the Celestial Burials scheme. Sadly, many were World War II veterans.

The owner of Celestial Burials pleaded guilty to charges including conspiracy, mail fraud and making false statements on tax returns.

A judge sentenced the owner to six years in federal prison.

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    Bill gladly returns to Rhode Island airwaves following a 10-year absence. He broke into television news in New Bedford in the early 1980s, working as a photographer/reporter for cable television.
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