Authorities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania have been investigating a scam in which scammers take money upfront from grieving families to manufacture gravestones but fail to deliver the promised products. Reports indicate that victims have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars to these scammers.
One family that has been repeatedly involved in this scam is the Stefan family, including Greg Stefan Sr., Greg Stefan Jr., and Gerard Stefan. They have operated fraudulent companies such as Lifestone by Stefan, LLC, Stefan Memorials, Inc., and 1843 LLC. Pennsylvania authorities sued the Stefans in 2015, resulting in an injunction against Greg Stefan Sr. and restitution for scammed families.
In late August, an arrest warrant was issued for Greg Stefan Jr. by the Vineland police in New Jersey. Stefan Jr., who is the president of Colonial Memorials in Bridgewater, has been under investigation by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office. Colonial Memorials had its accreditation revoked on September 26, 2023.
The lack of specific licensing requirements or protection laws in New Jersey for retail monument or memorial companies has made it difficult to stop these scammers. John Farrell, a master stone cutter and business owner, highlighted the need for consumers to exercise caution and provided helpful tips to avoid falling victim to such scams.
These tips include calling the cemetery to obtain a list of reputable monument companies, understanding the typical payment process for gravestones, searching for online reviews and checking references, and not succumbing to pressure tactics.
While efforts are being made to crack down on these scams, the absence of stringent regulations in New Jersey has allowed scammers to exploit grieving families. Authorities continue to investigate and raise awareness to prevent further victims from falling prey to this fraudulent scheme.