The CEO and director of one of Scotland’s leading funeral directors has appeared in court charged with defrauding more than 50 customers.
It is alleged Barry Stevenson-Hamilton obtained a sum of money greater than £170,000 by fraudulently offering prepaid funeral care packages from branches in Fife.
The 39-year-old, of Old Dalkeith Road in Edinburgh, denies the charges and is due back at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court in June.
It is alleged, between January 2013 and September 2019, Stevenson-Hamilton formed a scheme to obtain money by fraud.
Court papers allege the scheme was run from the business’s branches at Station Road in Cardenden, Queensferry Road in Rosyth, Station Road in Cowdenbeath, Links Street in Kirkcaldy and elsewhere.
Stevenson-Hamilton is accused of having, in pursuance of the scheme and while acting as director of Stevenson Funeral Directors and Funeral Care Scotland Ltd, told complainers that by paying money they were purchasing a prepaid funeral plan.
Papers allege the scheme was run both “by his own hand” and by deceiving employees.
Prepaid plan money ‘was not deposited’
The funeral plans allegedly sold were either for buyers themselves or for another person and were put in place to guarantee payment of a funeral service and associated costs.
Papers allege plans purchased were to be held with the Avalon Trustee Company in Cheshire, or with Silver Clouds Later Life Planning in Southampton.
However, prosecutors say the truth was that the funeral provisions were not guaranteed, money paid was not deposited with Avalon and Silver Clouds and as a result, the complainers did not have funeral plans.
They say Stevenson-Hamilton obtained £170,279 by fraud.
In total, 52 complainers have been listed, with funeral plan deals ranging in value from £1,345 to £10,680 being the most expensive.
Stevenson-Hamilton also faces charges that between June 2015 and June 2019 he pretended to four customers they were purchasing prepaid funeral plans from Stevenson Funeral Directors and money would be deposited in a client service fund account but that he, in fact, induced them to pay him £12,202 by fraud.