Family Fraud Fun
The family that fakes a death together, gets convicted together.
Losing a parent is one of the hardest things someone can go through. Those who say that obviously have never found out that their parents faked their own death to collect $2 million in life insurance money. Isn't that a common experience for people?
Igor Vorotinov and his ex-wife, Irina, decided to see how their children would react to a faked death plot. It would have been easier to make them watch a soap opera storyline, but who knows why parents do the things they do. Grounding, taking the car away, saying dad died when he really just went to live in an unrecognized country, collecting life insurance money, and sending it to different bank accounts. Parent stuff.
The Body In The Bushes
It was a typical October morning in Moldova. The 11th day of the month. There was nothing typical about the dead body a police officer found though. It laid in the bushes, and there were no signs the person had been killed. The officer looked for bullet holes or signs of stabbing, but found nothing. Yet, the corpse was already decomposing. The officer decided to cut his morning jog short, finding dead bodies typically does that, and called his son. One wonders why he would call his son and not authorities, but this is Moldova and maybe they do things differently in that country. The men transported the dead body to the morgue.
There was a passport on the corpse that identified them as Igor Vorotinov. Authorities contacted Irina to ask her to claim the body, and make sure it was her ex-husband. She hopped on the first flight.
One look at the body and she affirmed that it was indeed Igor. After identifying the body, Irina and her sons began planning the funeral. And getting the documents together for the life insurance money, because you know it's not a death if someone doesn't get rich.
Funeral For No One
Instead of having the body brought back to the United States, Irina opted to have the body cremated in the Ukraine. An odd choice, made even odder when it's considered that she was no longer his next of kin. She got to live out almost every ex-wife's dream. Or it appeared that way.
Just before they divorced, Igor had named Irina the beneficiary of his life insurance policy. His $2 million life insurance policy. Either they parted best of friends, or she had some good blackmail material on her soon to be ex. Or they were getting ready to pull off one of the biggest, most elaborate frauds in the history of the crime.
In the urn were human remains, but no one knows who they belong to. Because no one knows whose body was used to take the place of Igor. First lesson for the kids, tell a lie and tell it often enough that it becomes the truth. Second lesson, use a corpse that nobody cares about.
Three days after the funeral, Irina collected the insurance money. Most people in her shoes would have tried to save it, or at the very least, not be as flashy with it. However, Irina is not most people, and she began moving the money to different bank accounts in Switzerland, Hungary, and Moldova. Nothing says innocent like a Swiss bank account.
Alkon, the oldest son of Igor and Irina, traveled to Moldova for vacation. At a party thrown by a family friend, Alkon discovered his father was alive and well. He was also going by a new name: Nikolay Patoka.
While someone was indeed cremated and buried in Lakewood Cemetery, the supposed resting place of Igor, it was not the patriarch. The discovery in June of 2012 sent Alkon on an "emotional roller coaster," his attorney told prosecutors. The lawyer also argued that Alkon was innocent and this was all Irina and Igor's fault: “He actually had to experience a funeral/memorial service for his father only to later find out that his father was alive. What kind of people put their own children through that kind of emotional turmoil?”
The lesson here is if you're going to commit fraud, include your kids in it.
The whole scheme came undone because Alkon and fiance flew to Moldova so many times. Every few months they were going, and it caught the attention of Federal Investigators. Around Thanksgiving in 2013, Alkon and his lady companion were flying back to the US when customs detained them. Customs took their possessions and began looking at what was going on.
As they looked at Alkon's laptop, they were also following a tip that Igor was alive. On the computer, they found pictures of Igor with Alkon's stepdaughter. He was indeed very much alive. This is where Irina and Igor learned a very valuable lesson; Trying to cut their eldest out of the take was not a good idea. He flipped on them like a burger on a grill. In exchange, prosecutors lessened the charges he faced. They just needed one more thing, they needed to know for sure that Igor was alive.
Alkon called his father, and put him on the phone with the Feds. Igor created a whole scenario about being kidnapped and being held for ransom. They didn't believe him. Everyone believed the story was designed to make Irina look innocent.
It didn't work. She is currently in prison. Before her sentencing, she claimed to be a destitute felon, and was angry that Igor seemed to have gotten away with everyone unscathed. Alkon similarly was not happy his father had not been brought back to the states, even as he faced prison time and the bill to Mutual of Omaha.
They needn't worry about that. Igor was extradited to the US and charged with mail fraud. He was sentenced to prison time along with his family in July of 2019.
Lawyers for Irina and Alkon have argued their clients lives are on the line. Irina has battling breast cancer for years, and is in ill health. And because of his dire financial situation, Alkon has allegedly tried to commit suicide on multiple occasions. These arguments did not help them get out of jail early.
The final lesson here is, maybe don't fake your father's death. It's just bad form, and no one will believe he really died when that time comes. The life insurance company least of all.