An insurance fraudster could be on the run in Australia after a plot to fake his own death was foiled when detectives found his fingerprints on his death certificate.
The scam, which investigators described as “not very professional” was hatched to get Alfred Sanchez and his wife, Sophie, out of huge credit card debts.
But the $2m fraud unravelled, Mrs Sanchez is in prison for two years and Mr Sanchez is reportedly on the run in Australia with his four children.
Details of the case emerged in a British court.
Mrs Sanchez, presented officials with a certificate from the crematorium after her husband’s “funeral” but the fingerprints of the “dead man” were on it, London’s Daily Mail newspaper reported.
Mrs Sanchez was arrested when she flew into Heathrow in September for her sister’s wedding, as the insurance scam was being investigated.
Under the ruse to get out of debt, Mrs Sanchez told her husband’s employer that he died while they were away overseas.
His employer, HMV, paid her £3,300 to travel to South America so that she could go to his uneral – despite telling life insurance companies that his body had been cremated.
In total HMV paid out $214,000, the court heard.
Mr Sanchez was juggling seven separate credit accounts and took out life insurance worth $840,0000 with Legal and General, the Daily Mail reported.
When the credit dried up, Mr Sanchez moved his family to his native South America.
He took out another $108,000 loan which would be paid off if he died and rented out their Surrey home while they started a new life in Costa Rica.
But things did not work out and he returned to Britain, where he took out even more loans and another life insurance policy.
Then, in 2005, Mrs Sanchez reported that her husband had died overseas on January 3 and he had been cremated on January 5.
Once she obtained the death certificate, she started claiming on the life insurance policies.
Prosecutor Simon Heptonstall said that problems started when someone else tried to use the “dead” man’s HMV discount card.
“Clearly, the couple’s plan (regarding the fake death) had not been communicated to others,” he said in the Daily Mail report.
Mr Heptonstall said that when insurance companies contacted Mrs Sanchez her response was to ask how they knew that her husband was not dead.
“He was clearly very much alive because in 2006 he renewed his Ecuadorian identity card and he even renewed his passport in Canberra, Australia.
“There is a curious piece of evidence which shows falsity of the death certificate – and that was the presence of Mr Sanchez’ fingerprint.”
Claire Howell, defending Mrs Sanchez, said her husband was the ‘driving force’ behind the scam.
“This lady has never lied to her family or friends, she has never claimed that her husband is dead to any of them,” she said.
“This was motivated by the amount of debt her husband had accrued. He had accrued massive debts.”