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Weekend at O’Bernie’s: Irish Bros Try to Use Dead Man’s Body for Pension Fraud

It’s hard to beat the over-the-top stupidity of 1980s comedies, but you never know when one of those vapid neon cult classics will inspire modern-day criminals to go for it

The 1989 dark comedy Weekend at Bernie’s wasn’t a high point in American cinema, and yet, the sheer outlandishness of its concept has kept it bobbing in the cultural ether for decades. The plot is as simple as it is iconic: A pair of wannabe yuppies pretend their boss, a dead rich guy, is still alive so they can enjoy an epic weekend at his beach house and keep the party going. 

At best, the movie is over-the-top silly. (At one point, the two 1980s baby-yuppie party bros even take their dead boss’ cadaver water skiing). At worst, it largely ignores the practical questions of how quickly rigor mortis sets in and how much decomposition you should expect from a rapidly rotting cadaver. But that aside, you’d never think anyone would do this in real life, right? 

Wrong. Someone would, and in fact, they did. According to news reports, two blokes over on the Emerald Isle appeared to cosplay with a dead man for an IRL version of Weekend at Bernie’s, to the horror of their neighbors. 

Why would they do that? To score from a quick scam, of course!

Over in Carlow, Ireland, the pair of ambitious re-animators had no water skis or beach house. But they did have their eyes set on a deceased man’s pension. It was a Friday morning when a man reportedly walked into the local post office and inquired about collecting a pension on behalf of an elderly man. The staff allegedly rebuffed his request and informed him that the pensioner had to be there in-person to collect their money. 

Cut to a short while later, when the same man returned, according to local reports. This time, he reportedly had another man with him, and between them was a third man, the pensioner in question. The man in the middle, the two other men allegedly claimed, was there to collect his funds. But as the younger men continued to ask for the elder man’s pension, he had yet to speak up for himself. 

Due to COVID regulations, the town’s post office was only allowing a few customers to wait inside — one of whom grew immediately suspicious of the two men and the elderly man. He looked rather flaccid and only seemed to be standing because the two younger men were propping him up. At first, she worried he might be having a heart attack. “It’s a small shop and you’re only allowed three at a time with social distancing. People were in shock, as they thought he was after having a heart attack,” the woman later explained to the Irish Times

Once she was convinced that he wasn’t suffering a coronary event, the woman came to the conclusion that the elderly man was actually already dead. So she alerted the post-office staff, telling them what she was seeing from her side of the counter. At that point, the two young men appeared to realize the jig was up and let go of the dead man’s body. It promptly gave way to gravity as the duo fled the scene. 

The dead man was later identified as Peadar Doyle, and Irish police are now investigating the incident

Another local woman, who lives next to the post office, explained to the Irish Times that her daughter had seen the three men on their way into the post office, and something about how they were moving caught her daughter’s eye. “She was leaving my house at the time and said the man looked unwell as his feet were dragging [on] the ground.”

Meanwhile, the postal customer who had alerted staff later told the local news, “I feel awful for the staff. They’ve suffered so many robberies over the years; they’re worn out. I’ve [got] a 12-year-old daughter, and I’m trying to explain to her what happened. But where do you start? It’s awful.”

Local town councillor Fergal Byrne described the pension play as “shocking and very upsetting for everyone locally.” He described Doyle as a “decent guy, very well-regarded and liked and caused no offense to anybody.” He added that the story defied his idea of any reasonable expectations for what one’s neighbors are capable of doing on any given day. “You couldn’t make up what happened,” he said.

Of course, the creators of Weekend at Bernie’s already did make this up. Let’s just hope these guys haven’t heard of the sequel.