Possible Funeral Fraud Has Customers Worried About Their Futures

Money for pre-need funerals may have been spent elsewhere

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. -- As many as 60 people with the forethought to prepay for funerals may have been scammed by a Fredericksburg funeral home.

On July 23, police executed a search warrant at Bailey Funeral Service, collecting evidence that resulted in the arrest of owner Ambrose Bailey, 51, Monday, News4's Chris Gordon reported. According to police, money for pre-need funerals was collected dating to the 1980s but it may have been spent on personal and business expenses instead.

"We found a box of documents containing over 60 files all related to pre-arranged funeral services, and we at this point have 22 confirmed victims representing over $90,000 where their money was not going into an escrow account as is legally required," said Natatia Bledsoe, of the Fredericksburg Police Department.

Police charged Bailey with obtaining money under false pretenses and violating the terms of a funeral contract, Gordon reported. Bailey said those people who've prepaid for funerals can expect to get what they paid for.

"Never been my intention to defraud anyone," Bailey told Gordon, referring all questions to his lawyer.

The investigation began when a 72-year-old woman who lives close to the funeral home read a news account that Bailey was charged by the Virginia Department of Health with forging doctors' signatures on death certificates. She called the Fredericksburg Police Department asking if the money she pre-paid for her funeral was safe, and as a result of that call, police got the search warrant for the funeral home and Bailey's residence.

Bailey is a former councilmember and prominent businessman. Bailey Funeral Service has been a fixture in the Fredericksburg community for 50 years. Before Ambrose Bailey became the operator, it was run by his father, Weldon Leon Bailey, who told Gordon he never sold pre-need funerals.

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