A person faking their own death for millions of dollars sounds like a movie plot, but life is often stranger than fiction. Federal courts recently sentenced a man to 41 months behind bars for faking his own death.
The man lived in Minnesota until he fled to Moldova in 2010. Seven months later, his wife claimed a cadaver to be his. The recovered body even had his passport.
Why did he do it? For the love of money, we imagine. They even nearly got away with it…until an anonymous tip came in on an FBI hotline.
Alive and Well, Living on $2 Mil in Moldova
Once the Minnesota man’s death was officially recognized, his wife submitted a claim to her husband’s life insurance provider.
The provider awarded $2 million to the wife and son, most of which was transferred to Moldovian and Swiss bank accounts. Seemed they just might live happily ever after, except for the anonymous tip-off that the husband was alive and well.
In 2013, FBI officials raided the family’s home and took the son’s computer. They found proof that the man was still alive.
Five years later, the man was extradited to the US and charged with a slew of fraud offenses. Most recently, he was sentenced to 41 months in prison and three years of supervised release. The man also has to pay $2 million in restitution to his insurance provider.
The lesson? Fraud charges are no joke. Over three years in prison is just the beginning of the potential penalties you may face for a fraud conviction in Minnesota.
If you have been charged with insurance fraud, don’t face them alone. Understand your charges, and find the right criminal defense attorney. It could mean the difference between jail time and walking free.
How Is Insurance Fraud Defined in Minnesota?
Insurance fraud looks different in every case, but there is one commonality among all insurance fraud activity. Each crime is committed with the intent to defraud someone for financial or another type of gain.
All of the following actions may be considered insurance fraud in the eyes of Minnesota law:
- Lying on an application for an insurance policy, an insurance claim, or a loan
- Removing assets and or transaction records from an insurance provider’s office
- Misappropriating consumer funds for personal gain
- Lying about an insurance provider’s current financial position, certifications, or sales
Consumers are not the only people at risk of insurance fraud charges. Any of the following could be charged with insurance fraud:
- Doctors and healthcare professionals may be charged if they lie about a patient’s condition for compensation.
- Employees of insurance providers may be charged for embezzling company funds.
- Injured persons may be charged if they lie about the scope or cause of their injuries.
These charges may apply when any type of insurance fraud is involved: life insurance, auto insurance, renter’s insurance, etc.
Minnesota Insurance Fraud Penalties
When a Minnesota judge determines the sentence for insurance fraud, they will first look at how much money was defrauded in the crime. Minnesota law has specific guidelines for penalizing insurance fraud:
- In cases that involve less than $5,00, the offender may face up to 90 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.
- If $500-$1,000 was taken, the offender may face up to a year behind bars and up to $3,000 in fines. Harsher penalties apply if the fraudster has a recent criminal record of theft or fraud.
- If the fraudster took between $1,000- $5,000, they will face up to five years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
- If the fraudster took $5,000 -$35,000 during the crime, they may face up to 10 years behind bars and up to $20,000 in fines.
- If the case involves more than $35,000, offenders could face up to 20 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines.
Additional restitution may apply.
Consult a Minnesota Insurance Fraud Defense Attorney
…and do it sooner than later.
Policyholders often wait for months or even years before they get their money. Investigators may take even longer to spot cases of insurance fraud. Prosecutors have seven years after the crime was committed before charging offenders with insurance fraud.
Ultimately, insurance companies can seem like giants, especially in the courtroom. They have a lot of money and a lot of lawyers to help them win their cases. That being said, with the right Minnesota criminal defense attorney, it is possible to fight your insurance fraud charges.
Remember, prosecutors must prove that you intended to defraud the alleged victims in order to secure a conviction. Simple mistakes on your insurance forms may not be considered a crime. You should not have to go to jail for years because of an honest error.
Talk to a Minnesota fraud lawyer about how to build a solid defense strategy against insurance fraud charges. Winning an insurance fraud case can keep you out of jail and prevent thousands of dollars in restitution payments.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is a Minneapolis-based criminal and DWI defense attorney known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge, and recognized as a Minnesota Super Lawyers Rising Star (2014–2015), a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013–2015), and a Top 40 Under 40 Attorney (2013–2015).