Attorney General Chris Koster announced that he filed a criminal case against Toby L. Polley in Ray County for multiple counts of financial exploitation of the elderly, stealing and unlawful merchandising practices. Koster is assisting Ray County Prosecuting Attorney Camille Johnston in prosecuting Polley.
Koster alleges Polley stole from consumers by taking payment for pre-need funeral and burial services in advance, and then failing to maintain the money in accounts to provide services at a later date. Koster alleges that Polley made false promises to hold money in joint accounts, trust accounts, or insurance policies to provide the promised services. Many consumers have been forced to pay again for funeral services already paid for.
Polley owned and operated three funeral homes as Polley Funeral Homes, LLC, located at 5951 East Highway 10, Excelsior Springs; 214 North Pennsylvania Ave., Lawson; and 122 West North Main St., Richmond.
“Polley defrauded consumers who were trying to make sure their families would not bear their funeral costs at the time of their death,” Koster said. “The Attorney General’s Office is committed to seeking justice for vulnerable consumers victimized by these schemes.”
Koster offered the following tips to consumers to prevent becoming a victim of pre-paid funeral contract fraud:
- check the references of pre-need sellers and funeral homes before signing a contract or providing any payment;
- check with the Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau for complaints against pre-need funeral sellers;
- insist on knowing what happens to the money you’ve prepaid. Missouri law requires that the money is placed in a joint checking account, a trust account, or an insurance policy;
- know what happens if the seller you dealt with goes out of business; and
- know the terms of cancellation or transfer of the contract, and the rules for a refund of any pre-paid funds.
Any consumers who believe that they have been a victim of Polley can file a complaint with the Missouri Attorney General’s Office by contacting the Consumer Protection Division Complaint Hotline at 1-800-392-8222 or by filing a complaint online at ago.mo.gov.