Families claim dead relatives’ pensions to pay for funerals

A new fraud has come to light involving funeral agencies and families too poor to pay for burials. It involves the families claiming up to three months of their dead relatives’ pensions, which then goes to the funeral agency to pay for the funeral ‘in arrears’. The agency files death notice after all expenses have been paid, explained Correio da Manhã in an exclusive this week.

It is a loophole in the system which the association of funeral sector professionals flagged as early as last summer, adds the paper.

Social security inspectors are now “investigating” and have told CM be communicating any cases where they discover fraud to the Public Ministry.

But the paper claims the practice has been commonplace, and has even seen families making use of pension payments to pay other household expenses.

The scam hinges on the three-month limit for the communication of deaths that is the responsibility not of families, but of funeral agencies, says the paper.

Poor families are entitled to a ‘funeral subsidy’, paid for by the State, but they can only receive it after the funeral, and as a result of a receipt issued by the funeral agency.

As CM explains, no funeral agency issues receipts without having received any money – and thus the system was ripe for “risk of fraud” from the very beginning.