A man from Hertfordshire, who faked his own death in order to claim life insurance, has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.
Sanjay Kumar, 46, pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court last month to six counts of insurance fraud, whilst his wife, Anju, pleaded guilty to two counts – she was handed a six month suspended sentence.
After Sanjay travelled to India in November 2011, Anju phoned five insurers to tell them of her husband’s death during the trip due to ‘brain fever’.
She said he had been in contact with her via email prior to the ‘death’ saying he had been taken ill, before telling insurers that he died and was cremated on the 25th November.
Yet enquiries conducted by insurers revealed no record of Sanjay being treated for a life-threatening illness or having been admitted to hospital.
There was also no cause of death certificate, only a bogus document, and no evidence that the crematorium where he was said to have been cremated actually existed.
Even the person with whom Sanjay was reported to have stayed with in India denied knowing him.
In total, Anju had sent the fake death and cremation certificate to three insurers: Aviva, Scottish Provident and Legal and General, in order to secure a total payout of £1,155,789.38.
With the insurers’ enquiries pointing towards an attempted life insurance fraud, Scottish Providentreferred the information into the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED), which launched its own investigation.
IFED detectives established that Sanjay was in significant financial debt, and with several failed businesses behind him, pressure to pay creditors had been building.
They also uncovered that Anju had used a Western Union transfer to send £1,500 to her husband in India on 27th November 2011 – two days after she alleged he had died – and that he collected it.
They also traced Sanjay as having flown back to the UK from India under the alias ‘Sanjay Vig’ on 17th August 2012.
A short time afterwards, 47-year-old Anju was arrested at the couple’s house on Hempstead Road in Watford. Sanjay was arrested at a police station on 11th September and his mobile phone was seized.
Analysis of his phone revealed damning messages detailing the specifics of the fraud.
At Southwark Crown Court, Sanjay pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation while Anju pleaded guilty to the same offence relating to invested money that she fraudulently claimed.
DC Tom Hill, who led IFED’s investigation, said: “Sanjay Kumar’s answer to building up substantial debt was to fake his own death in India and let his wife cash in their investments.
“Unfortunately for the couple their tale of supposed tragedy quickly fell apart under scrutiny by insurers and IFED, with the uncovering of one lie, exposing several more from the Kumar’s as they attempted to get their hands on a massive payout.
“Now that he is behind bars they will have time to reflect on whether making fraudulent claims is the right way to go when faced with financial troubles.”