PREYING on the raw emotions of the bereaved, a family from suburban Philadelphia swoops in with offers of headstone services, often mere days after a loved one’s passing. But once the ink dries on the contract and the money changes hands, their promises evaporate, leaving over 1,000 grieving families empty-handed. All the while, this deceitful family indulges in their opulent lifestyle in Gladwyne, an upscale enclave known for its affluence.
The Stefan family, ominously referred to as the “Stefan crime family,” consists of Gregory “Greg” J. Stefan, Sr., his son Gregory “Greg” J. Stefan, Jr., the latter’s wife Suzanne “Sue” Stefan, and Gerard “Jerry” Stefan. Their reputation in the memorial and headstone industry is tainted with allegations of ruthless scams and exploitation.
Your Content’s exhaustive investigation revealed that after being barred from conducting business in Pennsylvania, the family cunningly circumvented the law. Determined to salvage their fortune, the family seeped their illicit operations into New Jersey, using proxy companies registered in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Just weeks after a Pennsylvania court ordered the family to pay over $380,000.00 in restitution, Suzanne Stefan, Greg Stefan’s wife, emerged as the new face of this fraudulent operation.
After the passing of Kristin Reyes’ father, Ricardo Reyes, on November 10, 2022, the family received a tip from Perincheif Funeral Home: a memorial company would soon approach them about a headstone.
By mid-December, that prediction came true when Greg Stefan from Colonial Memorials reached out. He claimed to have gotten Kristin’s contact details from Fairmount Cemetery and mentioned affiliations with places like Odd Fellows Cemetery.
Spotting an opportunity, Stefan made a trip to the Franklinville residence of Reyes and her fiancé, Jason Wilhelm, on December 27. He lured them with an enticing pre-New Year’s offer. He cited a supposed surplus of stone and discounted prices available only until the end of the year.
“While in our home he listened to our personal stories about my father. He listened to my mom talk about her husband passing.” Kristin told Your Content. “He listened to us discuss how my dad was a heart transplant patient that we had seven extra years with.”
Stefan didn’t just stick to business. He shared personal stories about his late wife and engaged deeply with the family’s own tales of loss. He even spent time with their four children, including a special needs son.
“He met our four children and listened as we spoke about how my dad loved all of them. He met our special needs son and listened to the struggles we have daily.”
Moved by his approach, the Reyes family, residents of Gloucester County, New Jersey, decided to purchase a memorial stone priced at $6,500, making an upfront deposit of $2,000.
Fast forward to March 17, 2023, Kristin received an email from someone named “Griffin Piper” affiliated with Colonial Memorials. The email presented a digital design for the cemetery monument.
“Hello Kristin, my name is Griffin with Colonial Memorials customer service,” Griffin wrote. “I am reaching out today with the most recent Digital Design we have for your Cemetery Monument.”
Piper mentioned that he got her details through their salesman Greg Stefan and sought her approval for the design. However, there’s suspicion around “Griffin’s” true identity since no legitimate employees or associates are known to be connected to Colonial Memorials, Inc.
By Jun. 22, Griffin claimed that he lost contact with Greg making it impossible to access their ‘design database.’
“I’ve forwarded your emails and requests to Greg, your sales rep, on two separate occasions,” Griffin wrote. He then provided Greg’s email address and suggested she reach out to him directly.
The situation took a turn on July 30, 2023. Greg Stefan, now using the email address [email protected], sent a concerning message to the Reyes family. He informed them of Colonial Memorials’ dire financial state, indicating they might not be able to fulfill their contract.
“Regretfully I wish to inform you that Colonial Memorials has for the past two years been suffering significant financial losses and presently does not have the financial resources to fulfill your contract,” Stefan wrote.
He elaborated on the company’s financial woes, hinting at potential reorganization or bankruptcy. Stefan assured them of updates and promised assistance wherever possible. Just a few days later, on August 2, 2023, Kristin received a physical letter from Colonial Memorials, Inc. containing a mirror image of Stefan’s email from July 30.
“The fact that this was all done with an ulterior motive in our vulnerable state is a unique kind of evil.” shared Kristin, a licensed professional counselor who works with clients facing severe and persistent mental illnesses.
Speaking to Your Content, she added: “He has an antisocial personality disorder comparable to the evilest criminals on earth. It’s sickening.”
Documents secured by Your Content unveil a series of questionable business maneuvers by Suzanne Stefan. She first incorporated Colonial Memorials, Inc. in Delaware on February 12, 2021, and utilized a ‘good standing’ certificate from the state to form similar organizations in two states.
A mere two months later, on April 12, she registered the company in New Jersey, but intriguingly listed its headquarters in Pennsylvania, a state where the business hadn’t been legally established yet.
This inconsistency was short-lived, as she incorporated the business in Pennsylvania the very next day, on April 13. However, the King of Prussia address she provided raised eyebrows.
William “Bill” Miles, owner of several co-working spaces, was caught off guard when he discovered that the Stefan’s had falsely listed one of his properties for the second time. This time, it was 1150 1st Avenue in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, which they claimed as the address for Colonial Memorials, Inc.
“They were never a client,” Miles told Your Content, noting this wasn’t his first encounter with the Stefan crime family.
He had previously received mail at his other property, 1060 First Avenue, addressed to Greg Stefan for a different fictitious business, Hillside Memorials. Despite the Stefan’s illegally utilizing his mailing addresses, Miles never had any formal business dealings with the family.
“He never actually signed up but used our address. I tried reaching out and I did get a hold of him.” Miles told Your Content. “He told me he had some bad stuff going on with the business and he wanted to be a client, but he never showed up.”
Amidst Suzanne’s questionable tactics, she renamed the Delaware corporation from Colonial Memorials, Inc. to Phoenix Memorials, Inc. just about ten days post its inception. Yet, she failed to notify Pennsylvania and New Jersey authorities about this alteration, presenting them with outdated documents that continued to display ‘Colonial Memorials, Inc.’ as the company’s title.
By Dec. 28, 2022, Delaware’s Division of Corporations revoked Colonial’s standing and listed the organization as “forfeited” for failing to appoint a registered agent and owing taxes in excess of $600 to the state.
During their crime spree, the Stefan family employed their signature scheme to victimize between at least twelve and twenty-three families across various parts of New Jersey. However, these are just the number of victims who have approached the state’s top cop, Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin. It’s believed that the actual number could be much higher, as it wasn’t until after the news became widespread in Pennsylvania that authorities began uncovering the extent of the scheme.
With at least 600 complaints lodged with the Pennsylvania Attorney General, over 170 reported to Action News, 103 submitted to Your Content, and approximately 300 complaints from various sources including the Better Business Bureau, Yelp, Google, along with a series of civil suits filed against the company, it’s estimated that the number of victims surpasses one thousand.
In yet another case that underscores the Stefan family’s foray into the Garden State, Barbara L. Kalmus, a resident of Morris County, New Jersey, came forward with her distressing tale.
“I lost my sister to cancer on May 7, 2023,” Barbara began her account to Your Content. Shortly after her sister’s passing, Barbara was approached by Gregory Stefan from Colonial Memorial in Bridgewater.
“He claimed to have gotten my contact details from Fairmount Cemetery and expressed condolences for my loss,” Barbara shared.
A week after her sister’s passing, Barbara received an email from Greg Stefan on June 9, 2023. The email read: “We would like to introduce ourselves to you during this difficult time. We are truly sorry for your loss and would like to provide the guidance, experience, and expertise you will need to create a memorable memorial that will honor your loved one for many years to come.”
Stefan’s email painted a picture of Colonial Memorials as a compassionate and professional service provider. He emphasized their role in helping families create lasting tributes to their loved ones, offering a range of services from design and installation to engraving and restoration. He also highlighted their flexibility in meeting locations, be it at the cemetery, a family’s home, or any other comfortable place. The email also directed Barbara to their website for further information and assured her of the quality and satisfaction guarantee of their products.
Following the initial contact, Barbara and Stefan engaged in a series of discussions about potential memorial options. As discussions progressed, on June 28, 2023, Greg Stefan sent Barbara another email, this time detailing payment options. He wrote:
“I am so sorry that Colonial does not use credit cards for transactions. They only do ACH transactions or personal checks. I wish we could, but it seems the transaction cost of credit card fees were too high. I apologize for the inconvenience.”
The email from Greg arrived a week after Colonial Memorials informed the Reyes family that they had been unable to track down the dubious salesman.
He then provided detailed wire information for a business account named Colonial Memorials, Inc. with Tompkins Bank, emphasizing that they do not accept credit card payments, possibly to avoid any potential disputes from victims.
“We communicated back and forth for approx. 6 weeks. I chose a stone and design, approved it, signed the contract, and paid in full, just under $4,000.” Barbara recounted.
However, her trust in Stefan and his business was soon shattered. “Long story short, I just received a letter stating they have been having financial difficulties for 2 years and can’t fulfill my order, they will be filing bankruptcy,” Barbara revealed. This recurring bankruptcy claim, used as a convenient excuse, further highlights the deceitful tactics employed by the Stefan crime family.
Another heart-wrenching account comes from Luz Vasquez, a resident of Cumberland County, New Jersey, who tragically lost her son, Chad, to murder on September 24, 2022.
In the aftermath of the funeral, she received a call from Greg Stefan, introducing himself as a leading memorial service provider in the area.
“I received a call from Greg Stefan, and he told me he was the area’s go-to memorial company,” Luz told Your Content. “He said he’d been referred to call me, and he’d like to set up an appointment at my home to go over the stone options.”
On October 21, 2022, Stefan, representing Colonial Memorials, visited Luz’s home in Vineland. The meeting was emotionally charged, with both sharing moments of grief. Stefan assured her of providing a fitting tribute to her late son.
“I invited him into my home, and we sat in my dining area. We mourned together. He was sympathetic and said he’d deliver a memorial that would celebrate the life of my son—a memorial my son ‘deserved,’” Luz recalled.
During their conversation, Stefan inquired about the cause of her son’s death. When she revealed the tragic circumstances of her son’s murder, Stefan seemed to share in her sorrow. “He asked me: ‘What happened to your son?’ I said, ‘My son was murdered.’ He mourned with me.”
Luz recounted how Stefan persuaded her to make a full payment by offering a discount, leading her to pay the full amount upfront. “He said there’s a sale now, if you pay it in full, it’ll be discounted. So, I paid it in full or else it would’ve been over $8,000, he said,” Luz told Your Content.
However, as the months passed, the stone remained undelivered, and Colonial Memorials became unresponsive. Stefan had cautioned her about a potential period of silence, informing her that the stone’s completion would take approximately six months. But as the fifth month approached, Luz grew anxious and reached out for an update. Her attempts were met with silence.
“At about the fifth month, I just wanted to see what the status is. I asked: ‘Hey, how are we doing with this?’ No response. No calls. Six months, no response. I’m like, oh my God. That’s when the red flags came out.”
Reflecting on the meeting, Luz felt that Stefan’s demeanor was rather somber, almost as if he was mourning a personal loss, but with an insincere undertone.
“In hindsight, he seemed like a gloomy individual. He was walking around like he lost his best friend, and he was trying hard to pretend to care,” Luz recalled.
Luz’s plea is clear: she wants to raise awareness about the Stefan crime family‘s deceitful practices and hopes that no other grieving family has to endure such exploitation.
Holding back tears, Luz divulged: “Listen, my son was murdered. He was shot—my handsome 31-year-old son. I had just buried him. For somebody to sit in the dining room of my home and knowingly take my money as I’m freshly grieving—he’s soulless.”
Paula Puliti-Maxwell’s father, James Puliti, a World War II veteran, passed away in 2021.
Paula began her account to Your Content, echoing familiar patterns we’ve seen with other victims: “A couple of weeks after my dad died in November 2021, Jerry Stefan started calling about the headstone engraving and to purchase a military stone for his gravesite. Given our state of grief, we thought perhaps the funeral home might have shared our contact with these memorial service providers.”
Paula, a resident of Somerset County, New Jersey, recounted her interactions with the Stefan family, noting that Jerry Stefan of Colonial Memorials was the one they dealt with directly in the beginning. Recalling a specific instance, Paula shared that Jerry had visited her mother’s residence in New Jersey the previous August.
“Jerry Stefan from Colonial Memorials was our main point of contact. At first, we didn’t have any interactions with Greg. Jerry visited my mom’s house in New Jersey in August.”
Being unfamiliar with the process of memorial selection, Paula believed that such house visits were a routine part of the service, telling Your Content: “I had never been through this process before, so I assumed this was standard procedure.”
In an attempt to ensure her mother’s safety, Paula planned to arrive early for a scheduled meeting with Jerry Stefan. However, to her surprise, upon her arrival, she found Jerry had already made himself comfortable, seated in her mother’s kitchen ahead of the agreed time.
“Jerry told my mom he’d arrive sometime after 12 p.m. Wanting to ensure my mom wasn’t alone with a stranger, I aimed to get there a bit earlier. But he was already seated in my mother’s kitchen when I arrived.”
“We had a conversation that felt genuine. He spoke about his family and even mourned with us,” Paula shared, highlighting the Stefan family tactic of building trust through personal stories and shared grief.
As with other victims, delays and excuses soon followed.
“They informed us it would take several months due to supply chain issues. We were patient, especially since there was already a stone in place; it just lacked my father’s name.”
However, the situation took a turn when Paula’s sister-in-law passed away. “In January, I reached out to them again, this time to update the engraving. I needed a quote for my sister-in-law. It wasn’t just about my dad anymore.”
Jerry Stefan followed up with Paula on Feb. 5, 2022, providing pricing options for the grief-stricken family.
“Ms. Paula Puliti: Very nice speaking with you today.” Jerry wrote. “Below you will see some possible options for your family memorial. Please feel free to contact me with any questions. Take care and have a great weekend.”
Weeks later, an individual claiming to be Fran McGlynn of Colonial Memorials circled back with Paula to provide a ‘final copy of the stone drawing.’ However, there’s suspicion around “McGynn’s” true identity since no legitimate employees or associates are known to be connected to Colonial Memorials.
“Following up on Bett’s voicemail for cemetery requirements,” McGlynn wrote. “I am providing a final copy of the stone drawing for your review. Please review and let me know if you approve of the specific information on the stone.”
A few weeks into their correspondence, Paula received an email from Griffin Piper, referencing pricing details from Greg.
“That was the first time I heard of Greg. When I asked who Greg was, he said: ‘That’s Jerry’s brother.'”
“Paula, I deeply apologize for the recent lack of communication.” Griffin wrote in an e-mail dated May 23. “We are in no way looking to disappoint you or complicate your situation.
“Springtime into Summer is very hectic for us as weather warms and we attempt to catch up on the installation of our Fall and Winter orders.” Griffin said.
Discussing the financial aspect, Paula revealed, “He charged us about $7,000.00 just for engraving. It could have been way more, but since we already had a stone, we only needed engraving and some finishing touches.”
Griffin circled back with Paula on Jul. 6 to inform the grieving daughter and sister-in-law that Greg—despite supposedly being inaccessible as it related to the Reyes family—would soon investigate the pricing personally.
“Paula, I got an email from Greg last week that he was going to be looking into the pricing for the engraving and getting back to me when he had it finalized.” Griffin wrote. “I will reach out and remind him that we need that info ASAP.”
Despite Griffin initially telling the Reyes family that they were unable to locate Greg since June, he claims to have spoken to him about this specific memorial.
Paula’s trust in the Stefan crime family began to waver as time went on. “After over a year of back-and-forth communication, it was only when we received a bankruptcy letter last Monday that I realized something was amiss.”
She also recalled an attempt by Jerry to upsell them a design, “Jerry suggested adding seven crosses for each of the kids. However, when he mentioned the price, I declined.”
Paula’s account, much like the others, paints a picture of a calculated and repeated pattern of deceit and exploitation by the Stefan crime family, leaving families not only in emotional distress but also in financial loss.
A spokesperson for the the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office Division of Consumer Affairs told Your Content they’re actively investigating the Stefan crime family for their consumer-crimes in the Garden State.
“The Division of Consumer Affairs has 23 consumer complaints on file against Colonial Memorials.” The spokesperson told Your Content. “The complaints were received from July 2022 through August 8, 2023.”
These grievances primarily revolve around breach of contract, undelivered goods or services, misrepresentation, and subpar customer service. While 11 of these complaints have been resolved, 12 remain open.
In an email correspondence with Your Content, a spokesperson for the New Jersey State Police underscored the significance of first reporting incidents to local law enforcement agencies.
They detailed that if a crime has taken place in a jurisdiction where the state authorities serve as the primary law enforcement body, the immediate step should be to contact the relevant New Jersey State Police station.
The spokesperson stated: “The initial point of contact should be the local police department. However, if the crime transpired in a town where the New Jersey State Police is the primary law enforcement agency, then the first point of contact should be that specific NJSP station.”
The scandalous family has carved out a notorious niche in the memorial business, leaving a trail of aggrieved families in their wake.
Kani International, located in Hillsborough, New Jersey, which the Stefan crime family frequently touted as their go-to supplier, disclosed to Your Content that they currently have about 40 open orders linked to the Stefans.
A spokesperson from Kani International informed Your Content that a significant number of these designs are pending final approval. They have dispatched images of at least 25 finalized stones, yet they are uncertain about the payment status with the Stefan’s sham company—Colonial Memorials. Kani International emphasized that in their line of work, it’s customary for retailers to secure the final payment after the customer has seen the image of the finished stone.
“In this industry, the retailer typically receives the final payment for stones when the customer views the completed piece,” the representative from Kani International told Your Content. “But we’ve observed that many of their customers made full payments upfront.
“This is a concerning trend. Customers shouldn’t be expected to settle the entire bill upon ordering. Such a demand is a glaring red flag.”
Kani International hopes that these customers will receive their rightful monuments and are open to further communication if needed.
Disturbingly, the Stefan crime family‘s nefarious activities extend beyond mere scams. An individual closely associated with a Pennsylvania cemetery shared a chilling detail with Your Content, revealing the family’s alleged practice of desecrating graves.
“He is also known to steal what’s called ‘flat markers’ and he turns them upside down to engrave them with a new name,” an individual familiar with the gravestone fraud family previously told Your Content, mentioning Stefan snatched at-least one memorial from a cemetery in Springfield Township, Pennsylvania.
In 2020, Your Content was alerted to Greg Stefan’s deceitful operations by Abby Williams of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. She recounted her harrowing experience, saying, “He came to my home, offered condolences, and even sat at my table, sharing a meal with my family. An instinct told me to document the encounter.”
After entrusting Stefan with $8,200 for a memorial, Williams was left high and dry. However, in a twist reminiscent of Chris Hansen’s ‘To Catch a Predator,’ Williams showcased resilience and quick thinking. She later approached Stefan posing as a new customer. Little did he know, he was about to come face-to-face with a previous victim he had deceived.
Detailing the subsequent events, Williams told Your Content: “He invited me to his office. Once there, he secretly called the police, accusing me of kidnapping and robbery. But I had an ace up my sleeve—I had been recording our entire interaction on Facebook Live, which ultimately saved me from a wrongful arrest.”
After our conversation with Williams, Your Content launched an investigation into Stefan. We uncovered that he had evaded justice and persisted in scamming hundreds of victims, especially as it became clear that the authorities were not inclined to pursue criminal charges against him.
Your Content’s initial investigation into the Stefan crime family garnered the attention of federal prosecutors in Philadelphia, who expressed deep concern about the revelations.
“I read your story, and I was horrified,” conveyed Nancy Rue, the Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, in an email to Your Content in November 2021. “It seems like something that we should be investigating.”
However, following Rue’s retirement from the office, our attempts to secure further comments from federal prosecutors regarding their probe into the Stefan crime family have been met with silence.
“I read your story, and I was horrified. It seems like something that we should be investigating.
As a result of the disturbing Your Content investigative report, Gregory Stefan, Jr. was criminally charged in various Pennsylvania regions: Delaware, Northampton, and Montgomery Counties for crimes relating to his deceitful practices. He currently remains free on bail across three separate counties in Pennsylvania.
Stefan is represented in his Pennsylvania criminal cases by high-profile criminal defense attorney Michael J. Malloy, a reputable lawyer based in Delaware County. Malloy was not immediately available for comment when approached by Your Content.
On April 12, 2023, Berks County prosecutors secured a plea deal with Stefan to crimes relating to fraudulent memorial sales sentencing him to a mere one-year probation term. He was ordered to pay $1,274 in costs.
On November 11, 2021, a criminal case against Greg Stefan in Chester County was miraculously dismissed for unknown circumstances. The Chester County District Attorney’s Office did not respond to request for comment when approached by Your Content.
Stefan is scheduled for his next court appearance before Judge George Pagano of the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas on September 11, 2023, at 10 a.m.
However, the specifics regarding trial dates and subsequent appearances for Stefan in Montgomery and Northampton Counties remain undisclosed on their respective docket sheets.
In a defiant email to Your Content, Suzanne Stefan refuted the allegations, labeling the article as “trash” and threatening legal action.
“Jonathan, you had written the article listed above about Greg Stefan being a fraud and more false information that is not true.” Suzanne wrote in the e-mail to Your Content dated September 18, 2021. “This is just pure trash! Everything said in this article is false and it’s defamation of character you have no proof of any of these allegations.”
The swindler made a futile attempt to have Your Content retract the article, declaring: “We need you to take this down get it off the internet as soon as possible.”
Your Content reached out to Greg Stefan Sr., Greg Stefan Jr., Gerard Stefan, and Suzanne Stefan for comment several days before the story was published. They did not respond in time for publication.
The following offices and representatives were approached by Your Content for comments, but none provided a response in time for publication:
- Delaware County District Attorney’s Office: Regarding Greg Stefan’s current criminal case and the new allegations against the crime family.
- Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office: Pertaining to Greg Stefan’s ongoing criminal case and the fresh allegations against the crime family.
- Northampton County District Attorney’s Office: About Greg Stefan’s present criminal case and the recent allegations against the crime family.
- Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General: Concerning the Stefan crime family’s apparent evasion of the business ban.
- Monroe County District Attorney’s Office: On the Stefan crime family’s current criminal activities in their jurisdiction.
- Somerset County District Attorney’s Office: About the Stefan crime family’s ongoing criminal activities in their area.
- Gloucester County District Attorney’s Office: Regarding the Stefan crime family’s present criminal activities in their region.
- Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office: Pertaining to the Stefan crime family’s current criminal activities in their jurisdiction.
Residents in Pennsylvania and New Jersey should be on high alert for a slew of business aliases linked to the Stefan family’s dubious operations. Names to watch out for include Colonial Memorials, Stefan Memorial Group, The Memorial Company, Gallagher Memorials, Alessi Memorials, 1843 Memorials/Cartledge, and 1843 New Britain/Quakertown Memorials. Furthermore, there’s a possibility that the Stefan’s are operating under ‘Phoenix Memorials, Inc.’, a name discreetly registered by Suzanne Stefan shortly after establishing Colonial Memorials in February 2021.