A suspected fraud case involving an apparent fake newspaper obituary is being investigated in Waterloo. Police Captain Bruce Arends says officials became suspicious of the potential crime when the presumably dead teenager was spotted at a local restaurant.
He says it was reported 17-year-old Daniel Reddout had died after surgery at Mayo Clinic, but then someone called and said they’d seen him, alive and well, and that the obit was a hoax. Arends says the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier contacted police on Tuesday with similar information. Investigators are trying to determine if the teenager’s family received any money from the phony announcement. Arends says the obit mentioned memorials should be sent to the family so police began looking into the case as a possible fraud.
The obituary was published in the Courier last Friday. Nancy Newhoff, the newspaper’s managing editor, says there was nothing suspicious about the funeral notice. Newhoff says a gentlemen came in and submitted the obituary and appeared in every way to be a grieving parent — no flags were raised. It was a short obit but it listed all surviving family members, adding there would be no funeral or memorial service, just a burial.
Newhoff says the Courier didn’t learn of the hoax until Tuesday. She says a woman who works at a Waterloo restaurant said the young man is up and around, walking the streets of Waterloo and carrying the obituary with him. Newhoff says “We were stunned and immediately began our own investigation into this matter.”
She says the fake obituary is one the most bizarre stories she’s dealt with in her 25 years at the Courier. Because of the apparent hoax, newhoff says the newspaper has made some policy changes in the gathering of funeral information.