Craziest Ways People Faked Their Own Death

Here are some of the craziest ways people faked their own death!

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How wrong would your life have to go for you to consider faking your own fatal demise? You might be thinking that getting caught for some sort of serious crime is the only reason anyone would go to such extreme lengths. But amazingly, some people have faked their own death for the smallest, strangest, and most insane reasons.

From wanting to avoid marriage, ditch their friends, or just avoid a cellphone fine, there’s no reason too stupid for these people. And how some people have faked their deaths is almost as insane as the reason itself. Let's investigate the craziest ways and stupidest reasons people faked their own deaths!

Debit Dodger

Everyone has different ways of handling the constant frustrations our phone companies inflict upon us, but Corey Taylor of Chicago took his fury with his provider, Verizon, to new extremes.

Back in 2007, Corey learned he’d have to pay $175 to get out of his long-term phone contract with Verizon early! Not keen to fork over the dough, he searched for a cheaper way out. After learning that wireless companies cancel the contracts of their deceased customers, Taylor made up a fake death certificate and had a friend fax it to Verizon!

Faked Death Certificate

You might not believe it but, for a little while, this actually worked! Or it did, until Verizon’s eagle-eyed billing department, who deals with stunts like this all the time, suspected that Corey might not be dead at all. In the end, Corey had to cough up the $175. Nice try though!

Phantom Politician

In 2010, Mexican police issued an arrest warrant for one Lenin Carballido, who’d been involved in some dark criminal deeds. Eight days later, however, the warrant was revoked.

Why? Well, Carballido’s family had presented the police with his death certificate, which said he had died after falling into a diabetic coma. The police figured there was no use continuing to pursue a dead person and, for the next three years, Lenin Carballido was presumed dead.

Craziest Ways People Faked Their Own Death

Cut to July 7th, 2013, when the small town of San Agustin Amatengo gathered to elect its next mayor. The clear favorite was the candidate from Mexico’s Democratic Revolution Party, who ended up romping home with an 11 percent margin of victory!

The numbers were in, all the ballots had been counted and the next Mayor of San Agustin Amatengo was, you guessed it, Lenin Carballido! As it turned out, Carballido had fooled his party with fake documentation and false testimony.

While you might think Carballido stupid for resurfacing in such a public way after faking his death, it also says a lot about the police that failed to find him until he was elected Mayor of a small town!

police searching Lenin Carballido

Mayor Carballido was promptly arrested and sent to face the litany of charges against him. However, you can’t be that surprised this guy’s a liar, he became a politician, after all!

Ailing Acquaintance

Have you ever found yourself stuck with a group of people you want nothing to do with? It can be hard to get rid of them without giving them a proper reason. These can be hard to come up with; however, a lesson learnt by 27-year-old Alison Matera of New Port Richey, Florida.

Alison was part of a group at her local church, who were shocked when she informed them that she’d been diagnosed with terminal cancer. She told them treatment was going really badly, and that, having accepted her fate, she would be entering an end-of-life hospice.

Alison Matera faking death

This meant, sadly, Alison would have to leave the church group. The group then began to receive phone calls from hospice nurses with updates on Alison’s health, and were later informed Alison had, tragically, passed away.

However, the group was suspicious. Some had noticed that the nurses who’d contacted them all sounded like Alison and, when they called round all the local hospice and funeral homes, none of them had heard of her!

Still, the funeral proceedings went ahead as planned. As the group were mourning their friend, a strange woman appeared in the funeral parlor, one who looked suspiciously like Alison Matera!

Alison Matera funeral parlor

Though she claimed to be Alison’s sister, the group weren’t fooled for an instant. The police went to Alison’s apartment soon after, where she confessed her illness had been a hoax designed to separate her from the church community.

And she almost got away with it, if only she hadn’t been dumb enough to attend her own funeral to see how many people had showed up!

Fearful Fiancee

Alex Lancaster of the United Kingdom couldn’t believe her luck when, attending college in Connecticut, she met the dreamy Tucker Blandford. A whirlwind romance blossomed between the two, which swept Alex off her feet! By Alex’s account, Tucker was the perfect gentleman.

While it seemed too good to be true for a time, there was one hitch in Alex and Tucker’s plan. Being a student, Alex’s VISA would expire, and she’d have to move back to the UK! But Tucker came up with the perfect solution.

Just as Alex was about to leave America for good, her boyfriend became her fiancée! That’s right: Tucker turned around and proposed, and Alex was ecstatic.

tucker proposing alex

When she returned to the UK, Alex spoke with Tucker on the phone every day. They planned to have their wedding in Connecticut, with Alex going as far as to purchase her dream wedding dress.

But not all fairy tales have a happy ending! One day, Alex got an unexpected call from Tucker’s father, who informed her that her fiancée had died! Alex was told that Tucker had had a severe mental breakdown and had left for heaven after attempts to institutionalize him proved fruitless!

tucker faking death

Needless to say, Alex was devastated. After taking a few days to process her grief, she reached out to Tucker’s mother to express her condolences. But when she picked up the phone, Tucker’s mother was surprised to learn that her son was dead, and informed Alex that, as far as she knew, he was alive and well.

You guessed it: Tucker wasn’t dead at all! He’d gotten cold feet and impersonated his father over the phone to fake his death to get out of the wedding!

tucker faking death

When Alex confronted him, Tucker sent an apology, via text, no less, and paid back half the $1,200 he owed Alex in wedding expenses. He now also admits that, instead of faking his death, he should have been more honest with Alex about his reasons for wanting out of the marriage.

But, despite the lies and trauma, Alex spun the horrific experience into a positive one! She now owns a successful business making wedding favors! That’s right: if you get cheated out of your own wedding by a lying sociopath, why not set about improving the wedding days of others!

Alex wedding favors

Get It Off Your Chest

Stephen Kellaway was as rich as an honest man in the UK could hope to be. He was earning £100,000 a year, roughly $130,000, from his psychological counseling business, as well as owning a property portfolio worth £1 million, around $1.3 million.

But despite his life of comfort, Stephen was still out to make a quick buck wherever he could. Using his extensive property portfolio, Stephen was able to swindle £43,000, a little under $60,000, off the welfare state; money that was intended for families in need.

stephen fraud

But just as authorities uncovered the fraud in 2008, he unexpectedly died during a family trip to Moscow. A few months later, Stephen’s wife, Nelli, returned from Russia carrying an urn, a death certificate, and three of Stephens life insurance policies.

stephen's wife nelli

But that wasn’t all! It was revealed that the couple had used the money Stephen had stolen from the state on Nelli’s new breast implants! Nelli was promptly arrested and charged with three counts of fraud and two counts of money laundering.

But it didn’t end there. Unfortunately for him, Stephen’s parents casually let slip that he’d visited them in Brighton three times over the course of 2009, a year after he’d supposedly died!

After an international manhunt, Stephen was found hiding in Bangkok, Thailand. Once captured, he admitted the original plan; He’d fake his death allowing Nelli to claim £2 million in life insurance, roughly $2.6 million, and then they’d be reunited abroad.

stephen faking death

However, when Nelli was arrested and suspicions arose that Stephen was not really dead, the plan had to be abandoned. The money was eventually recouped, and their entire property portfolio was repossessed.

After that ordeal, it sounds like Stephen and Nelli needed some psychological counseling of their own!

Til Death Do Us Hide In Panama

You couldn’t have found a more run-of-the-mill English married couple than Anne and John Darwin until an untimely tragedy turned their lives around.

In 2002, John Darwin tragically perished in a canoe accident at sea. Poor Anne was forced to tell their sons that their father had gotten into a canoe and never gotten back out again. Except, John was still alive. And, not only that, but Anne was in on the ruse as well.

John Darwin canoe accident

Having racked up massive debts through poor investments, the Darwin’s needed some quick cash. John, who Anne claimed was often in search of the latest get-rich-quick scheme, had faked his death so Anne could claim the life insurance and pay off the couple’s debts!

The incident in the canoe was staged, with John taking the train across the country to go into hiding. But after running out of money in 2003, John was forced to return home. While Anne kept up the image of a widow, even to her own sons, her late husband began living in a bedsit they owned next door to the family home, with a hidden passage connecting the two houses!

The Darwins were able to keep this situation going for a while, but they knew it wouldn’t work as a long-term solution. Deciding the best option was to leave the country, Anne helped John get hold of a fake passport.

Their destination: the Central American nation of Panama. When Anne announced to her sons that she was moving to Panama, they were pleased and saw it as an important step in her grieving process.

Anne Darwin moving to Panama

In Panama, the Darwins would be able to live a luxurious, upper-class lifestyle with the insurance money they’d swindled. There was only one hitch to the plan: they required VISAs and registering for one of those meant identity verification!

That wasn’t the only problem, either. Those close to the Darwins had noticed a couple of strange, unexplained instances surrounding John’s death. For one, a colleague of Anne’s grew suspicious when she overheard a conversation Anne sounded like she was having with her dead husband.

For another, the couple’s own son raised his eyebrows when he was gifted a book that had purportedly belonged to his father but was published in 2003, a year after his death!

John Darwin faked death

With the whispers getting louder and the evidence against John’s death mounting, the Darwins needed a way to bring him back to life that wouldn’t raise too many questions. On December 1st, 2007, Christmas shoppers were alarmed by the presence of a disheveled man staggering confusedly through the crowd.

When someone asked him if he was okay, he claimed he had lost his wife and children.

john darwin reappearing

Then, as the police arrived on the scene, the man, who appeared to have amnesia, revealed that he suspected he might be a missing person. That’s right: it looked like John Darwin had come back to life!

His miraculous survival caught the attention of journalists, who noticed that Anne was suddenly nowhere to be found. Wondering why she was not on the scene to welcome back her lost husband, journalists eventually found Anne hiding away in Panama!

It was only then that suspicious journalists discovered a photo of the Darwins together, posing in front of the house in Panama they intended to purchase!

Darwins

That was the final nail in the coffin. Anne was arrested upon arrival at Manchester Airport, and both Darwins were convicted of fraud and sentenced to around six and a half years in prison.

By 2010, two years after their imprisonment, Anne informed John that their marriage was over. He tried to convince her otherwise but now realizing she should never have listened to her psychopath husband; Anne divorced him upon their release from prison in 2011.

Though they never made their life in Panama, Anne got new qualifications in prison allowing her to go about rebuilding her life. John, on the other hand, managed to dupe another woman into marrying him!

Lifeless Insurance

On November 2nd, 1995, Takashi Mori of Japan found himself charged with insurance fraud. But, as you’ve probably guessed, this wasn’t any old case of financial misconduct.

Walking down Manila Bay in the Philippines the year before, Mori noticed a body had washed up on the beach. While most people would either scream, call an ambulance, or both, Mori had an entirely different reaction.

This was his opportunity to make a quick buck! When officers from the Philippine Homicide Division arrived on the scene, Mori bribed them into producing a fake autopsy report and death certificate.

Takashi Mori fraud case

Rather than try and identify who had really died, Mori wanted the autopsy report and death certificate in his name. The body was cremated, and the ashes sent to Japan, where Mori’s son then made a $6.5 million life insurance claim!

So far, so good for the Moris! Well, as it turns out, the Mori family were a little hasty in cremating whoever’s body they found. Officials at the Japanese Embassy noticed that the cremation had been carried out before they’d been informed and permission to burn the body had been granted, rousing serious suspicion.

Not long afterwards, police found Mori hiding in the home of his daughter-in-law, who lived in the Philippines. The game was well and truly up! Mori’s wife and son were deported from Japan to the Philippines to face trial, and Mori himself was charged with a very serious – and very unusual – case of insurance fraud!

Financial Fade-Out

During the late 90s and early 2000s, Samuel Israel III defrauded a whopping $450 million from investors through illegal Ponzi schemes. At one point, he was even renting a house for $32,000 a month from none other than the future 45th President of the United States. It was some shady, shady business indeed!

Samuel Israel III

When his illegal schemes came to the attention of law enforcement, Samuel was arrested for misappropriation and fraud, pleading guilty in 2005 and filing for bankruptcy in 2006. Two years later, he was handed a 20-year jail sentence.

The judgment is one of the most severe penalties for white-collar crime handed down to date. But, before his time inside began, Samuel disappeared! The only clue he left behind was his car, on which he’d scribbled a very sordid farewell.

By all accounts, Samuel believed this would be enough to confirm his death and get the police off his tail. However, he had failed to consider that, without a body, the police would continue to search for him!

samuel israel faking death

By July 2008, Samuel realized no one believed he was actually dead and appeared at a Massachusetts police station on a motorized scooter to turn himself in. It turned out he’d been hiding at a local campsite for a little over a month, but a mixture of addiction, guilt and being featured on America’s Most Wanted made him give up the goose!

Justice was soon served, so while Samuel Israel was through with the past, the past was definitely not through with him!

Mad Man Disease

Daphne Simpson will always remember the day in January 2013 when her husband, Jose Salvador Lantigua, approached her with terrible news. Jose revealed that he had been diagnosed with mad cow disease and had six months to live.

Jose Salvador Lantigua mad cow disease

But, according to Jose, hope was not yet lost; there was one surgical procedure that could save his life, but it wasn’t available in the US, where the couple lived. No, to undergo this risky treatment, Jose would have to fly all the way to Colombia!

They went about making the necessary preparations for the trip but, shortly before he was due to leave, Jose broke. He admitted to his wife that he did not have mad cow disease at all, but that his secretive military past was catching up with him!

By his own account, Jose claimed he was involved in a team that took out a major crime baron, and now had a rogue CIA agent threatening to expose him. If the rogue agent’s blackmail demands were not met, the crime baron’s family would be informed of his identity!

Jose Salvador Lantigua fraud

The only solution, Jose claimed, was to fake his own death from mad cow disease and run for the border! In April that year, Jose flew out to Magarita Island off the coast of Venezuela and purchased a fake death certificate and certificate of cremation.

Later that month, Daphne flew out too and took the fraudulent documents to the embassy.

Jose Salvador Lantigua fake death certificate

Then, when she returned to the US, Daphne filed 7 life insurance claims totaling $6.6 million, claiming Jose was dead of mad cow disease. Of that $6.6 million, Daphne received around $900,000.

In the autumn of 2013, Daphne took a cruise to the Bahamas and Jose traveled to meet her. From the Bahamas, the couple paid someone $5,000 to smuggle them back into the US.

Jose Salvador Lantigua fake death case

Once there, Jose changed his name to Harry Fields and the couple were living in North Carolina in time for Christmas! However, Jose tried to obtain a driving license using a fraudulent ID. But officials quickly realized they had been handed dodgy information and, using facial recognition technology, were able to identify Jose under his proper identity!

The ruse was up, and the couple were both arrested. Jose went to jail for a very long time and Daphne was sentenced to five years on probation! As for Jose’s past as a CIA agent? Totally bogus! It had only ever been about the money! And he probably chose mad cow disease of all things because the steaks were high.

Life Of A Legislator

In 1959, UK MP John Stonehouse was enjoying a holiday away from Westminster. Enjoying it so much, in fact, that he was getting up to a little extra-marital naughty time in a hotel room!

That could end a politician’s career today but, in 1959, it was a full-proof way of bulldozing your public reputation! So, you can imagine Stonehouse’s horror when he looked up to the ceiling and saw a camera recording the entire thing!

John Stonehouse scandal

The camera belonged to the Statni Bezpecnost, or in English, the Czechoslovakian secret police! And so, Stonehouse was blackmailed into performing espionage for the Czech government over the next 10 years.

Stonehouse’s spying went undetected until 1969, when his secret was suddenly exposed. Faced with a potential unmasking as a secret agent, and without even mentioning an imminent probe into his debt-ridden financial affairs, there was only one way out for Stonehouse!

John Stonehouse faking death

By this point, you can probably predict his next move! One morning in 1974, Stonehouse discarded his clothes on a Miami beach and waded out to sea. At the next beach along, he collected a hidden suitcase, changed his glasses, and made a break for the airport carrying a dead man’s passport.

Back in the UK, everyone assumed Stonehouse had been eaten by a shark.

John Stonehouse fake death

A minute’s silence was observed in the House of Commons while Stonehouse was very much alive and well in Hawaii! There he remained, until moving to Moscow, before settling in Australia.

A few months later, Australian authorities spotted what looked like a British man wearing a Saville Row suit and reading The Times. Of course, there was only one person it could be. A certain British politician who had mysteriously gone missing and left the entire world wondering if he was alive or dead. The police arrested him thinking that he was Lord Lucan!

John Stonehouse in Australia

So, who was Lord Lucan? He was an infamous aristocrat whose disappearance after the homicide of his child’s nanny was one of the biggest political scandals of the decade. Although the Australian authorities believed they’d finally found him, albeit by accident, to this day Lord Lucan has never been found but they had found Stonehouse!

On Christmas Eve, Stonehouse was arrested. He admitted his identity, was returned to the UK, and sent to prison for fraud. While Stonehouse had more understandable reasons to fake his death than most others, there’s no denying that his was one extreme downfall!

Car Crash Proposal

When Alexey Bykov of Omsk, Russia, decided to propose to his girlfriend, he found a very unusual way of going about it! On the day he decided to pop the question, he instructed his girlfriend, Irina, to come to a certain place at a certain time.

But when Irina arrived on the scene, she didn’t find a romantic dinner or Alexey down on one knee: just utter carnage! There were crashed cars everywhere, ambulances frantically darting through the chaos, and smoke wafting into the sky!

Then, Irina saw Alexey lying, comatose in the middle of the road. She was informed that Alexey was gone. Devastated Irina broke down in tears. But then Alexey magically came back to life! He got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend.

Alexy and Irina

That’s right: Alexy had hired a stuntman, a make-up artist, a screenwriter, even a director to stage his death in a car accident! Irina later said she wanted to murder him for this bizarre, expensive, narcissistic and toxic behavior! But Irina decided to marry him anyway.

So, what made this guy think such an insane, traumatic act was any kind of ok? Well, Alexey claimed he wanted Irina to realize how empty her life would be without him.

Purposefully putting your fiancée through shock and personal distress, and then defining these emotions as how Irina would feel if she left him is not a red flag, that’s an entire parade! I just hope the wedding wasn’t as much of a car crash as the proposal!

Alexi and Irina wedding

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