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Archive for Monday, October 25, 2010

Authorities warning area residents of veteran funeral arrangement scam

October 25, 2010

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Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Herrig

Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Herrig

If you’re a veteran, and a smooth-talking salesman comes to your home claiming to be from the Department of Veterans Affairs hawking funeral arrangements, watch out, authorities say.

That’s the word from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, which is warning area residents about a potential scam involving the company American Veteran KCA.

The Kansas Attorney General’s Office has heard complaints, too, and last month reached a settlement with the company. If the account from a Jefferson County couple and sheriff’s office are true, the company could have violated the terms of that settlement.

A Jefferson County couple called the sheriff’s office saying they were visited at home by a salesman described as having an “Adolf Hitler-type mustache” and dark, unkempt hair with wire-rimmed glasses, according to Sheriff Jeff Herrig. Officers said the couple wrote a check for more than $6,000 to pay for what they thought was a funeral package, but in actuality was just two caskets.

The salesman called last Wednesday, and identified himself as working with Veterans Affairs, according to the sheriff’s office. On Thursday, police said, he met with the couple, and identified himself as representing American Veteran KCA and talked with them about buying caskets, and about both of them being able to be buried at the National Cemetery in Leavenworth.

As part of the settlement with the attorney general, all the company’s customers received a letter stating the company was not affiliated with the VA was not affiliated with the National Cemetery and was not affiliated with any governmental agency.

All customers who had purchased caskets from the company are entitled to a full refund as part of the settlement, provided they ask before Oct. 30, said Gavin Young, a spokesman for the Kansas Attorney General’s Office. The company also had to pay a $20,000 fine.

Young said he hadn’t heard of the events in Jefferson County — but he said consumers should report any violations of the settlement agreement to the Kansas attorney general.

An attorney for American Veteran KCA and the company’s general manager both denied the company was operating a scam, and said they were a legitimate casket-selling company.

Shawna Estrada, listed as the company’s general manager in a Better Business Bureau online report, said the company operated out of a warehouse in Kansas City. It used materials clearly designated as not being affiliated with the VA, and approved by the Kansas attorney general. It does, however, provide brochures that let veterans know of their free benefits they are entitled to.

“We were not in compliance with some of Kansas’ laws,” she said. “We have corrected that.”

William Owensby, director of the National Cemetery in Leavenworth, said neither the cemetery nor the VA would send anyone to veterans’ homes to discuss funeral arrangements, Owensby said, and he made clear that all the services available to veterans and their spouses through the cemetery are available without charge.

Comments

shanep 3 years, 11 months ago

There's a reason people don't wear that particular style of mustache any more. Rules to live by: Never trust a man whose mustache is described as "an Adolf Hitler style mustache."

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whats_going_on 3 years, 11 months ago

but I thought teabaggers didn't like anything associated with the government?

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tonygiff 3 years, 11 months ago

This article is absolutely shocking to me. We purchased two caskets from American Veteran this year, sadly having already used one. As beautiful as the casket was at our father's memorial, the service we received by the American Veteran management and sales staff was the key factor in our funeral arrangement choices. I really cannot believe that there is not more to this story than what this reporter has submitted. Additionally, upon purchasing our caskets we were given the opportunity to visit the American Veteran storage facility and found it to be very modern, clean, and technologically advanced. What a shame that a company that provided our family with wonderful and thoughtful service under difficult circumstances is being so maliciously attacked. There must be more to this story than what has been presented!

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Centurion 3 years, 11 months ago

My 89 year old father recieved a flier in the mail from them last week. The flier doesn't mention anything at all about selling caskets. It just tells you that if you are a veteran that you maybe entitled to free burial in a military cemetary, that you maybe entitled to burial with milatary honors for free. etc. etc. etc... And that they can help you with getting all of this info.

I told dad that it sounded like one of those scams that the company would charge you a hefty fee for sending you a few pamphlets that my dad could probably get for free by calling veteran affairs.

I didn't realize that they were throwing in a nifty casket with those pamphlets. That kinda changes things....

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whats_going_on 3 years, 11 months ago

elderly people are easy to brainwash into thinking what you're doing is fair and good, for several reasons. They want to make sure things are taken care of for their family before they pass, their reasoning skills are sometimes lower than it was before, they still might think that humans have a shred of decency like when they were younger, etc.

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greenworld 3 years, 11 months ago

Die first and then let somebody else worry about your funeral arrangements.

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EarthaKitt 3 years, 11 months ago

Why is Jeff Herrig's photo running with that story? So we can get an image of the Jefferson County Sheriff spokesperson in our minds? To show and example of a non-Hitler mustache? Just a random question.

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blindrabbit 3 years, 11 months ago

I, (a VietNam Vet) received a flier from them in the mail a couple of weeks ago asking for personal military information. We figured it was bogus and did not provide. Beware!!

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Kontum1972 3 years, 11 months ago

how about we let a couple of Green Berets...or Rangers go have a private chat with these guys at their place of business..where ever that is...LoL....

i am sure this will all be worked out....

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mr_right_wing 3 years, 11 months ago

Geez...makes you wonder who is the lower of the low?

The Phelps klan or these scamming cockroaches?

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Kontum1972 3 years, 11 months ago

i got the same info rabbit...i shredded it

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dontbl8 3 years, 11 months ago

My family was taken in by M. Dale Armstrong and his fine company American Veteran KCA. I went to a KC news station in the hopes of getting the word out before another family was duped. Fox 4 has carried two stories about this. Unfortunately this awful man continues to prey on elderly veterans. Shawna Estrada called me to defend her employee and explain to me that her business is legit. But after so many complaints and a state judgement against them, when the crime continues I have to assume that management is in on this stinking ploy.

Please help spread the word. Make sure all veterans are aware that American Veteran KCA is crooked and evil. One man purchased what he thought was a complete funeral plan. When he passed away, his family called to begin the arrangements and was told. "He only purchased a casket. Where would you like it delivered?" Undoubtedly there are other victims out there who think they have taken care of everything for their family.

How do these slimeballs sleep at night? Poorly, I hope.

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tonygiff 3 years, 11 months ago

This article is absolutely shocking to me. We purchased two caskets from American Veteran this year, sadly having already used one. As beautiful as the casket was at our father's memorial, the service we received by the American Veteran management and sales staff was the key factor in our funeral arrangement choices. I really cannot believe that there is not more to this story than what this reporter has submitted. Additionally, upon purchasing our caskets we were given the opportunity to visit the American Veteran storage facility and found it to be very modern, clean, and technologically advanced. What a shame that a company that provided our family with wonderful and thoughtful service under difficult circumstances is being so maliciously attacked. There must be more to this story than what has been presented!

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dontbl8 3 years, 11 months ago

Oh there is more, tonygiff, more lies from M. Dale Anderson as he preys upon trusting American veterans.

Really, you went to the casket warehouse? Why? And what constitutes a technologically advanced casket storage unit, I have to wonder? Please do tell us what was so impressive that should make us overlook the "complete funeral services" that were promised but not put in writing?

I have to wonder if you are indeed a customer, as you claim.

For anyone else who is contemplating doing business with American "We Scam The" Veteran KCA, please note that caskets are available at much less cost from your local funeral home. Of course you'd miss all that technological storage wonderment, but you might instead be dealing with honest businesspeople.

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recondaughter 3 years, 11 months ago

Please, know what you're entitled to as a Veteran, call your local VA office. They can let you know what you're entitled to, and what needs to be done when the time comes. All Honorably discharged Veterans are entitled to free burial in a State or National Veteran's Cemetery, as is their spouse. The local VA office is the place to find out just what constitutes a "free burial", what is included, and what is not included.

As for any company that claims to be a casket selling company, yet misrepresents themselves in their own pamphlets, never even mentioning the sale of caskets, is obviously a scam.

ANY company that in ANY way tries to take advantage of our nation's Veterans deserves punishment that if described here, would not be allowed to be posted!! I have worked with, and for, Veteran's all of my adult life, and it is the companies and organizations such as this that give those of us working honestly to ensure our Veterans are given the honor and respect they so very much deserve, a bad name.

I do hope that those reading these comments and those that have seen this article or news video, are saving those pamphlets so that they may be used to put scam operations like this out of business. Please, if you're receiving this type of mail,. call your local law enforcement agency to have them take possession of these pamphlets, as evidence of misrepresentation and violation of state and federal laws.

For those of you that have noticed I've capitalized the word Veteran, yes I am aware that it isn't a word requiring capitalization in traditional grammar, but I believe it should be.

A Veteran is someone who, at one point in his/her life, wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America," for an amount of "up to and including my life." ~Author Unknown~

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