One company, Consolidated Funeral Services, appears to have gained control of over 5,000 funeral homes during the last 4 - 5 years. This company does not seem to have been previously reported on. In addition to funeral homes, they also have become involved in cemeteries, cremation facilities, and coffin manufacturers. They operate in all 50 states.
Recently, a funeral home in Brooklyn was found to have been warehousing dozens of dead and decaying bodies that were not properly cared for. This seemed both tragic and unusual.
Since many problems and disasters that eventually come out in the media can be traced sometimes to failures of leadership, we were curious about the ownership structure of the Andrew T Cleckly Funeral Home.
Historical internet data, such as hosting servers, IP addresses, and domain registrations can be looked at to gather a very strong picture of what a company is doing. Additionally the data is also often numerical or mathematically derived, so there is not a lot of argument.
The IP address for the above funeral home was 18.104.22.168. This single IP address / server has over 1,000 different funeral homes on it. We found this very strange:
Let’s bring up another view of this IP address in SecurityTrails:
We can see now this IP belongs to Consolidated Funeral Services...but who are they? This screenshot below shows they run over 2,500 funeral sites:
Their website mentions 5,500 actually:
Well it looks like they design funeral home websites. Maybe there is nothing here. But it begins to break down when you realize other companies share their address, logo, favicon, etc.
Here are some of their partners as well. Some of these partners are very big in the funeral industry, and this begins to look more like a distributed anti-trust scheme. That is when a company begins using vague and overload terminology like partnerships, spin-off company, sister-company, etc to obscure their large size and near monopoly in a certain market.
We had a chance to speak with a funeral director out of Portland, Oregon who shed some light on what’s been going on in the industry. He pointed us to a firm we had not previously heard of. ProvEquity has mysteriously been acquiring many assets in the “death care” industry since late 2018. They also own many telecommunications assets in the United States. Their ownership of Consolidated Funeral Services does not appear to be disclosed anywhere other than a couple of random blogs from years ago that mention this as an aside.
This is probably legally significant. We have worked with lawyers previously who have told us that acquiring damages is notoriously hard in nursing home cases because their ownership structures are opaque and meant to thwart discovery of extensive asset holdings. Providence Equity might owe some amount of compensation to the families of the deceased from the article at the beginning of this post.
Why is this potentially serious?
- Someone is trying to either cause confusion or obscure their large presence in the funeral home industry. Funeral homes are currently a critical resource and public health is somewhat at stake.
- Telecom assets are also a critical resource, especially in light of the new “Team Telecom” investigations into China Unicom in the United States.