EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – The Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office said a woman was arrested after she allegedly defrauded a grieving family of over $18,000 meant to cover burial and memorial expenses for their dead child.
Caroline Marie Rich faces three charges of fraud and three charges of theft, all Level 6 felonies.
On September 7, deputies said they were called to Alexander Memorial Park for a reported fraud.
The sheriff’s office said an investigation revealed that Rich, a Family Service Counselor for Dignity Memorial/SCI Shared Resources, which owns Alexander Memorial Park.
Rich had worked with the family of Oliver Dill, a child who passed away in a hot car at the University of Southern Indiana back in July, the sheriff’s office said.
The parents and grandparents had paid a total of $19,273 for plots and headstones, authorities said.
The payments were made out to a PayPal account of Rich’s and personal checks were made out to her with the belief she would transfer funds to Dignity Memorial, investigators said.
The money had been gathered from the family’s personal accounts as well as a GoFundMe set up for the Dill family.
Investigators said a member of the Dill family had a personal relationship with Rich and assumed there was nothing suspicious about the payment arrangements.
However, authorities said the Dill family began receiving invoices showing a substantial outstanding balance was owed on the account.
The family questioned these invoices and Dignity Memorial began an internal investigation.
The sheriff’s office said Dignity Memorial found that Rich had apparently kept all but $1,000 of the money paid by the Dills.
Detectives said they verified the money transfers had been made to Rich’s personal bank account and that a total of just over $18,000 had been stolen.
Rich was interviewed by authorities on Tuesday, where according to detectives, she initially said she took the funds with the intention of helping the family.
However, when detectives began questioning the story, she declined to speak further, authorities said.
Rich was arrested and is being held without bond.
The sheriff’s office said Dignity Memorial has cooperated fully with the investigation and will refund an overage on the account and absorb the loss on the remaining balance.
(This story was originally published on September 11, 2019)