Headstone salesman charged with scamming grieving customers in 2 states

Gregory Stefan Jr. is accused of collecting payments from customers despite not delivering headstones on time, or at all. Prosecutors say there are hundreds of victims in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

A Pennsylvania man has been charged in connection with what federal prosecutors say was a scam to deceive grieving families out of headstones for their loved ones.

Gregory Stefan Jr. of Upper Merion is charged with seven counts of wire fraud through his allegedly “fraudulent business practices,” U.S. Attorney Jacqueline Romero announced Tuesday.

Between January 2018 and September 2023, customers paid Stefan for services he knew would not be fulfilled by the time he promised, if at all, according to the indictment obtained by USA TODAY on Wednesday.

Through his two companies − named 1843 and Colonial Memorials − Stefan demanded large up-front payments from customers despite not delivering the headstones by the expected 24- to 28-week timeframe, or ever, according to the indictment. He allegedly failed to offer refunds to nearly 500 victims in Pennsylvania and New Jersey who collectively paid over $1.5 million.

“When customers reached out to request updates on the status of their overdue orders, Stefan either ignored them or employed lulling tactics and assured them that their orders would be delivered shortly without taking any steps to follow through on those assurances,” the Attorney's Office said in a news release.

USA TODAY reached out to a public defender listed as Stefan's representative and did not immediately receive a response.

Stefan, family member previously accused of deceiving customers

Stefan, 54, was co-owner of the 1843 headstone company with his brother and also operated Colonial Memorials with his wife, who served as president until she died in 2022, court records show.

1843 did not manufacture its own headstones and hired third-party suppliers to produce the gravestones. Colonial Memorials would conduct its sales through 1843 as part of a service agreement in effect since 2021, according to the indictment.

In 2015, the Pennsylvania Attorney General filed a civil lawsuit against Stefan's father, who worked in the headstone sales business since the 1970s. The lawsuit accused him of allegedly deceiving customers by failing to deliver headstones on time since 2010, according to the indictment.

By 2021, another civil lawsuit accused Stefan, his father and his brother of doing the same since 2016.

Stefan allegedly used customer funds for personal expenses

The indictment accuses Stefan and his brother of using the profits for their own living expenses instead of fulfilling customer orders.

Stefan met with customers at their homes where he allegedly urged customers to pay upfront at four times the cost to produce headstones. Customers who refused to pay the full price had to place a 50% deposit, according to court records.

He allegedly ignored most refund requests but responded to those who consistently vocalized their complaints or threatened legal action, the indictment states.

Stefan faces up to 140 years in prison if convicted, prosecutors said.

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