Dead Men Write No Checks

Scammers pose as man two days after his death in bank fraud

Before his family could even bury him or grieve his loss, Tom Monaghan became the victim of fraudsters who immediately went to work stealing his identity within 48 hours of his death.

Monaghan, an aviator and pioneer in the airline industry, died June 26 in Coral Springs, leaving behind four children and a grieving widow, Madora.

And yet just three days after his death, Madora got a call from Bank of America, saying Tom had called the day before - two days after his death - trying to withdraw funds and open other accounts.

"I was sick to my stomach," Madora said. "I was immediately scared, it's like you've been violated."

Madora immediately called the Coral Springs Police Department, telling them scammers had used her late husband's social security number and other vital information and were trying to bleed her dry.
"She's going through an extremely rough time in her life right now. For someone to even attempt to access her accounts through her husband's name, that is someone without a heart," said Sgt. Joe McHugh, of the Coral Springs PD.

Five days is the quickest a death certificate can become public record, according to the state registrar's office, but Madora thinks she's narrowed down where the breach came from.

"The information had to circulate in or around or from the hospital or from the coroners office," Madora said. "Once you give your information over to the hosptial, you are assuming that your information is indeed private."

Jackson Memorial, where Tom was brought, issued a statement, saying the "safety and security of our patients is a top priority. We enforce strict rules for those who hand patient information...Jackson has launched an internal investigation."

The Medical examiner issued a similar statement, stating that "if any misuse of the information on a death certificate has occurred under the responsibility of our department, we will cooperate fully with any investigation by law enforcement."

Kraeer Funeral Home, where Tom's body was taken, said they "have no reason to believe the attempted identity theft originated at our funeral home or with one of our employees. We employ strict procedures."

The heartless scammers gave the bank an address to send credit cards to, but the owners of the address appear to have no connection to the fraud and said that their mail is frequently stolen.

"I saw those letters from Bank of America, I opened them and I saw two credit cards. I called the bank right away," said the homeowner, who wished to remain anonymous.

Bank of America confirmed the fraud occurred, and is conducting an investigation, but refused any other comment.

The grieving widow of Tom Monaghan just doesn't want what happened to her to happen to others.

"I am thinking of the little person that is out there that has worked really hard for maybe a small savings account or a small checking account. And they have something happen to them like this," Madora said. "In their grief, they are not paying attention."

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