A debt-ridden man who faked his own death has been caught red handed when detectives found his fingerprints on the death certificate.
Alfredo Sanchez, who had stacked up huge credit card debts, tried to cheat insurers and enlisted his wife Sophie to help make the £1.25 million scam work.
Mrs Sanchez, 43, presented officials with a certificate from the crematorium after her husband’s supposed funeral but it was found to have fingerprints of the ‘dead man’ on it.
The mother-of-four was arrested in September and sentenced to two years in prison last week – while her husband is still on the run in Australia with their children.
After the couple found themselves in severe debt, Ecuador-born Mr Sanchez persuaded his wife to tell his employers at HMV that he had died while abroad.
HMV then paid for her to travel to South America for the funeral – even though she had told life insurance companies that his body had already been cremated. In total HMV paid out £128,366.08.
The couple’s problems started between March 2003 and April 2004 when, unknown to Mrs Sanchez, Mr Sanchez opened seven separate credit accounts with various organisations, building up huge debts. On top of this he also took out life insurance worth £500,000 with Legal and General.
When the money had run out, Mr Sanchez opted to move his family back to South America – taking out another £65,000 loan, which would be paid off if he died.
Sanchez returned to the UK when the family’s new life abroad failed to work out, taking out an extra £31,000 of loans and a £117,000 life insurance scheme before going to Ecuador.
In 2005 Mrs Sanchez told authorities that her husband had died abroad on January 3 and had been cremated on January 5.
Once she got hold of a death certificate, she started claiming on the life insurance policies Sanchez had taken out.
Mrs Sanchez, who said her husband was the “driving force” behind the scam, admitted that her husband was alive when she was arrested.
Claire Howell, defending Mrs Sanchez, said: “'This lady has never lied to her family or friends, she has never claimed that her husband is dead to any of them.
“This was motivated by the amount of debt her husband had accrued. He had accrued massive debts.”
She admitted six offences of fraud at an earlier hearing but denied seven others which will lie on file.
The Economic Crime Unit in the UK is working with overseas agencies to trace Mr Sanchez.