25 April 2012


Another 'fake death' insurance fraud for my collection, this time involving media reports that UK geek Hugo Sanchez has been convicted in the Oxford Crown Court after faking his own death and starting a new life in Australia, assisted by $2m insurance payouts.

Sanchez was a web developer with HMV. He is reported to have faked his death - this time a fatal heart attack in Ecuador, rather than the more usual drowning used by scammers such as John Stonehouse MP and canoeist John Darwin - with the assistance of his grieving widow Sophie (currently on parole after two years in custody for fraudulently claiming £115,000 of the money from HMV, life insurers and credit card companies in 2005 and 2006). Sanchez' body was supposedly cremated. He ended up with his children in Sydney, operating a tattoo parlour operator (firebombed twice, supposedly by bikies), before being extradited to the UK in March this year.

His fingerprints had inconveniently been found on his death certificate, he'd posthumously used his HMV discount card and members of his extended family had apparently questioned whether he was dead. The relocation of his children, and the fact that the family was in debt before he holidayed in Ecuador, may have alerted the insurance companies.

The London Daily Mail last year emoted that
Sanchez, 47, whose fingerprints were found on his own death certificate, had been surviving on takeaway chicken and chips under the alias of Hugo Sanchez. ...
When challenged about the alleged fraud, Sanchez said he was aware of reports in the UK claiming that he and his wife had defrauded an insurance company, but he issued a denial. ...
"I know, I know (about the article)", he said, adding "not true". He insisted his wife was not serving a jail sentence but was in England "visiting family" and would be back in Australia next year.
"Sophie is not in jail, she is with family, that’s all", he declared. Ecuador-born Sanchez shrugged when asked how he could have the same surname as the wanted man, look the same, share the same date of birth and have a wife with the same name, yet deny he was the fugitive.
"Excuse me, I am innocent until proven guilty", he said. "I have not done anything. If they want me, they can come and get me."
Apparently they did.

The Guardian eschewed the "takeaway chicken and chips" and OMG, reporting that -
The record company paid for [Sophie] to travel to South America from the couple's home in Farnham, Surrey, so she could attend his funeral. 
She provided a death and cremation certificate and received a death benefit payment of £112,000. She also began claiming on life insurance policies he had taken out and received a large sum of money as part of his pension package before fleeing the country. 
In April 2005, she returned to the UK in order to appoint a solicitor to obtain probate on the estate. She provided the firm with the death certificates and went on to complete claim forms in respect of the other insurance policies, some of which settled that year. 
But an insurance investigator appointed by the larger companies later established that friends and relatives believed Sanchez to be alive and well and living in Costa Rica. The remaining claims were refused. 
HMV wrote to the Sanchez family requesting return of their monies but did not receive a response and reported the matter to police in 2007.
Conviction of Sanchez is a reminder that Australian and UK courts have not embraced parapsychology, contrary to the enthusiasm of exponents of what has been dubbed 'quantum holism'. Don't blame the ghost or a visitor from another dimension if the deceased person's paw marks appear on the death certificate or the dead man and kids are seen tucking into takeaway chicken.