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Faked death yields insurance fraud criminal charges for three

It’s not immediately clear what term might be most apt to describe the criminal caper spotlighted below in today’s blog post.

Bold? Brazen? Audacious?

Ultimately, and when case commentators have had their full say, a simple “stupid” might best suffice.

He liked the name Nikoly Patoka better. That was the handle that Igor Vorotinov chose after elaborately staging his death back in 2011 in Moldova, an ex-Soviet Republic.

Vorotinov was an American citizen with ties to Minnesota. That was where his former wife Irina Vorotinov oversaw his fake funeral after flying to Moldova and falsely identifying a corpse as her ex-partner. Igor had somehow gained possession of a dead body, donned it with his own clothes, planted identification on it for police to find, and then placed it beside a road.

Irina’s complicity in that fraud netted her a $2 million check as life insurance beneficiary from defrauded insurer Mutual of Omaha. Before receiving that impressive sum, she had even gone so far as to place the stranger’s cremated remains in a Minneapolis crypt.

The final fraud to-do list centrally included Irina’s transfer of money to her son in Switzerland and to an account in Moldova.

Why to Moldova if Igor was dead?

Well, of course he wasn’t, and authorities smelled fraud. The son was criminally sentenced in 2015 for his role in the ruse, receiving a probationary term. Irina received a three-year prison term a year later.

And Igor – who was found in Moldova and extradited back to the U.S. last winter – just pleaded guilty to mail fraud in an American federal court. He will be sentenced this summer.

Although such a crime might not instantly resonate with some people as being a deeply serious matter, it indeed is. We noted in a recent blog post at Caffery, Oubre, Campbell & Garrison that fraud “has financial consequences for everyone.” Reportedly, only tax evasion outranks fraud among all white collar crimes for its adverse economic impact on the American public.

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