Pensioner devastated after discovering £4k funeral plan doesn’t exist

Funeral Plan

An Acocks Green pensioner who paid out almost £4,000 for a funeral plan, has been left shell-shocked after discovering it doesn’t exist.

Imelda Moorhouse, who is originally from Dublin, paid out £3,995 for a funeral plan to Samuel James and Sons Funeral Directors in Fox Hollies Road, Acocks Green.

The 72-year-old widow assumed all her funeral arrangements would be taken care of when the time came but later discovered she had no plan whatsoever.

Tony James, the sole owner of the business, had taken money from Mrs Moorhouse and several other people, but the plans had never been taken out with a funeral plan provider.

Mrs Moorhouse became only became aware of the problem following the death of Tony James in October last year and she is just one of many – with as many as 50 people thought to have been affected.

She thought that the plan had been taken out with Golden Leaves, only to discover the money she paid to Mr James had never been received by the company and therefore no plan had been taken out.

Mrs Moorhouse’s niece Alice Ellis said: “My aunt had a plan with Samuel James and Sons.

“She was going past the premises one day and noticed a new name was up.

“She went in and they said Tony James had died. She subsequently discovered he had taken the money for her funeral plan and not passed it on to Golden Leaves.

“Needless to say she was devastated.

“She had paid the money in cash, part of a redundancy settlement she received from her work, and had a receipt and everything but sadly it meant nothing.”

Since them Mrs Moorhouse has explored a number of avenues to see if anything can be done, all to no avail.

Golden Leaves has said her plan never existed and unable to help her.

The welfare arm of Birmingham Irish Association has also come to her aid to see whether anything could be done on her behalf and is still trying to assist her.

Powell and Family Independent Funeral Directors, the company which took over the premisses of Samuel James, has also attempted to help Mrs Moorhouse and other victims, even though it has no connections with Samuel James and Sons and therefore bears no responsibility for what happened.

Catherine Powell has gone through documents, helped victims and contacted police on their behalf.

She said: “Powell and Family took over the lease on the funeral premises in Fox Hollies Road, Acocks Green, in May 2012 after the previous tenant, Samuel James Funeral Directors, ceased to operate,” she explained.

“We were alarmed when a family approached us in 2014 with a receipt for a funeral plan paid directly to Samuel James Funeral Directors. “Upon investigation with plan providers, it turned out to not exist.

“We immediately reported it to West Midlands Police and the matter is now in their hands.

“As a family-run business we were appalled at what appears to have happened.”

“We have done our best to advise them on steps they could take to report the problem, and how to make alternative arrangements.”

Alice Ellis said the worry and stress of the experience had taken its toll on her aunt.
She said: “She doesn’t know what she is going to do when she dies.

“She is not in very good health at the moment and also has a son who is currently very sick too.

“It has caused her a lot of worry and anguish.

“She is very worried and says ‘what is going to happen to me’.

“I have said that if we have to we will have to organise a fundraising benefit or something.”

Police are probing the business dealings of Samuel James and Sons.

And members of the public who took out funeral plans with the undertakers are being urged to check that their plans are in order.

A West Midlands Police spokeswoman said their investigations were continuing.