90-year-old woman recovers some of her lost pre-paid funeral money thanks to Better Call Behnken

Better Call Behnken

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A 90-year-old woman was finally able to stop worrying about her missing pre-paid funeral money thanks to News Channel 8’s Better Call Behnken.

After a Better Call Behnken investigation, the state Division of Funeral, Cemetery and Consumer Services used a state trust fund to reimburse Victoria Hawkins more than 60 percent of the $13,000 she had paid in 2006.

Three months after turning to Better Call Behnken for answers, Hawkins received a check.

“I’m so relieved,” Hawkins said.

Here’s what happened: Zion Hill Mortuary closed abruptly, and Hawkins says she was told there was no money for her arrangements.

She turned to Better Call Behnken for help. Investigator Shannon Behnken tracked down former Funeral Director Dwayne E. Matt who said he’s had “financial hardships.”

“I’ve done everything I could, and I’m still trying to give her her money,” Matt said.

There is supposed to be a safety net. The State of Florida has a trust fund for pre-need policies. When a policy is sold, a portion of the money is supposed to go to the fund. The fund was established by Florida Statute to assist consumers who have purchased a pre-need contract when the seller of the contract cannot fulfill the contract.

However, Better Call Behnken found Matt failed to pay any money in Hawkins’ name.

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