9 People Who Tried to Fake Their Own Deaths and Got Caught

Bizarre, Crime, NakedLaw

It seems like any time a major celebrity dies, there is always a fringe group of fans who believe the celebrity faked their own death.

For example, there are those who think Tupac Shakur faked his own death (to be fair, the guy has come out with like 1,000 albums since he died). There was even a book written by a woman who believed Elvis Presley faked his own death. And most recently, the internet was buzzing with fans who think Michael Jackson staged his own death.

Most rational people are quick to dismiss these conspiracy theories, and for good reason. However, the whole idea of people faking their own deaths certainly isn’t a myth. Just take a look at this group of 9 people who tried and failed.

  1. Marcus Schrenker—After defrauding investors through 3 companies he owns, Marcus Schrenker had to disappear so he could avoid trouble and head off to a new life. His plan? Fake his own death in a plane crash. In January 2009, he tried to do just that. Shrenker took off in his aircraft one Sunday night, placed a fake distress call to air-traffic controllers saying his windshield imploded and he was bleeding profusely, set his plane on autopilot, and parachuted to safety as the plane crashed to the ground. He was found at a campsite a few days later and hit with a range of legal charges.
  2. Tila Tequila—Reality TV star Tila Tequila can never seem to get enough attention. Just when you think you’ve heard the last of her, she pulls another publicity stunt. Earlier this summer, Tequila posted a video on her website of a bloody arm—supposedly caused by her slitting her wrists. Police, paramedics, and fire rescue went on a 5-hour search across several counties to try to find her and save her life.  The incident turned out to be a hoax.
  3. Michael R. Rosen—Just last week, Michael R. Rosen, a convicted serial forger, was charged with trying to fake his own death. Rosen was attempting to avoid prosecution for 2 pending criminal charges, and he nearly got away with it. He submitted a fake death certificate to the court clerk’s office, but the certificate was “rife with errors.” He faces up to 10 years in prison for each felony count he had been trying to avoid.
  4. John Darwin—With mounting credit card debt ruining his life, John Darwin decided it was time to take drastic measures. In 2002, he staged his drowning death. When his red canoe washed up in the North Sea, everyone assumed he had drowned. A month later he was living back at home, hiding out whenever his sons came by to visit. He and his wife collected $50,000 from life insurance and their $260,000 mortgage was also paid off by insurance. After 5 years, Darwin wanted to see his sons, so he hatched another plan. He walked into a police station faking amnesia. And he got busted.
  5. Neil McClaren—Neil McClaren, 46, previously known as Emmanouil Parisis, was thought to have died suddenly in Jordan last year. He, his wife, and a friend were involved in a scheme to defraud financial institutions of £1.8million. All 3 were caught recently and arrested.
  6. Ichiro Ogushi—This Japanese man forged his own death certificate so he could collect millions of dollars in insurance payouts. Ogushi’s trading company ran into serious financial problems, so he and his friends decided to fake his death for insurance compensation worth about 500 million yen (about $5.8 million). He hired a tour guide he befriended to fake his death and pass off someone else’s ashes as Ogushi’s remains.
  7. Bennie Wint—File this one under “stupid criminal.” Bennie Wint faked a drowning death on a Florida beach back in 1989. He did it because he thought police were after him on drug charges. His heartbroken fiancée, ex-wife, and 4-year-old daughter all thought he was dead—for 20 years! Then, in January 2009, Wint was pulled over by traffic cops in South Carolina. After giving a false name, he eventually confessed all. Turns out, he was never wanted for drug charges in the first place. Oops!
  8. Frank Umbrello—After stealing more than $20,000 from credit card and eBay scams, Frank Umbrello tried to fake his own death to avoid prosecution. He sent a fax to authorities saying he had committed suicide after the death of his mother. Police found him alive and well just a few hours later.
  9. John Stonehouse—Former UK minister John Stonehouse faked his own death in Miami on November 20, 1974. He then fled to Australia to start a new life with his mistress and secretary, Sheila Buckley. By using fake names and transferring large amounts of money between banks, Stonehouse tried hard to cover his tracks. However, he was found out and arrested only a month later.


Do you think it’s possible to fake your death and get away with it? How would you go about doing it?