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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Funeral agents scam grieving families

By Wang Jian and Luo Zhengguang (Xinhua)

08:25, March 31, 2012

SHANGHAI, March 30 (Xinhua) -- Shortly after the death of her mother, a Shanghai resident surnamed Sun received a phone call from a man surnamed Li who claimed to be an employee of a state-run funeral home. Li tried to sell Sun a funeral package that would cover a wide range of services, including the casket and memorial service.

Immersed in grief, Sun accepted Li's offer without a second thought and bought the package for 15,000 yuan (2,380 U.S. dollars). However, after the funeral, Sun discovered that Li was actually an agent who had no affiliation with the funeral home where her mother was memorialized.

Sun then found that the agent had charged her 3,000 yuan for a casket and funeral clothing that cost just under 1,000 yuan at the funeral home.

Death can be extremely expensive in Chinese society, where the funeral service industry is largely monopolized by unscrupulous agents who are vying to reap grim profits from the relatives of the dead.

With China's Qingming Festival, a traditional holiday for mourning the dead, falling next week, the lucrative funeral service industry has once again become a hot issue. Many have complained about excessive prices charged by the agents, calling for strengthened regulation.

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