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NC9 investigates possible outcomes of criminal investigation into Wichman Monuments

Wichman Monuments (Image: WTVC)
Wichman Monuments (Image: WTVC)
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A Chattanooga business accused of scamming people who just lost loved ones is being investigated for possible criminal activity.

NewsChannel 9 first told you about Wichman Monuments last week.

Last Tuesday, families from across Tennessee and Georgia began contacting us, saying they paid the business for gravestones then never heard from them again.

Two days later we learned Wichman lost its accreditation from the Better Business Bureau.

Now, we've learned more about the Chattanooga Police Department's investigation.

The family we talked to Wednesday lives all the way in Chattsworth.

That's nearly an hour away from Chattanooga but they paid Wichman for a tombstone. When they saw our story about all the other victims, they realized they were stuck in the same situation.

Receipts show Elijah Early has been making payments on a double headstone for his parents, since his mother died in 2016.

"I told her that's what I would do for her and my daddy when they passed away," he said.

He says a representative from Wichman Monuments in Chattanooga came all the way to his home in Chattsworth Georgia to sell him a tombstone.

"He explained everything to me about how long it was going to take to pay it off," Early said.

But, after he made his last payment a couple months ago, he says he hasn't been able to get ahold of anyone at the business.

Now, CPD says it's fraud investigators are trying to determine if something criminal is going on.

The business's office remains locked, and there's no telling the last time someone was in the office.

We still couldn't get anyone on the phone when we tried again Wednesday either.

Attorney Robin Flores has a law enforcement background. He says because police may be able to prosecute the owner of this buiness for fraud.

"On a fraud, you're conning them setting up some scheme or plan," he said. "But, in the end nothing happens and [they've] got your money."

Victims have created a Facebook page to share their experiences. One victim posted that she made a police report earlier this week, and urged others to do the same.

We helped connect Early with police Wednesday. Now, he's waiting for his report to help.

"I hope that I get my momma's tombstone," Early said. "But, whoever done all this, I hope they go to jail or go to prison."

According to local tax records, Wichman's owes almost $8,000 in city property taxes and more than $7,000 in county taxes. That's more than $15,000 dollars owed in the last two years.

We also told Early to make a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.

Since our story first aired, the BBB says it has gotten well over a dozen complaints about Wichman's monuments.

The agency also reccommends not paying more than a third of the price when you put money down for a grave stone. The BBB says it's best to pay the rest once you receive the head stone.

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If you've given money to Wichman and have not heard back, the BBB wants you to report it to them.

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