back to article Laptop search unravels scheme to fake death for insurance cash

After faking one's own death to defraud a life insurance company, it's best to avoid being photographed alive and well, particularly when border agents may be reviewing those photos. That's a lesson learned too late by Igor Vorotinov, age 54, who was just arrested in the Republic of Moldova and extradited to the US State of …

  1. Youngone Silver badge

    A bit torn

    On the one hand he had a Sony laptop, so probably getting what he deserves, but on the other he was using a very nice prosumer Canon camera.

    I'm not sure what to think.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      "nice prosumer Canon camera."

      Which happens to be an EOS, not a IOS - AFAIK Apple didn't buy Canon yet.... anyway, they didn't look to spend much on cameras despite the millions stolen <G>

      But who was the unidentified body?

      1. Alister Silver badge

        Re: "nice prosumer Canon camera."

        But who was the unidentified body?

        Yes I thought that - surely it must be some sort of crime to obtain a dead body in the first place, even in Moldova

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "nice prosumer Canon camera."

          Probably more of a crime to obtain a live body which then subsequently dies while in your possession.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "nice prosumer Canon camera."

            > Probably more of a crime to obtain a live body which then subsequently dies while in your possession.

            Not in Saudi consulates, apparently.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "nice prosumer Canon camera."

        >But who was the unidentified body?

        Bunty the cow, Dave the pig, Harry the horse or Trish the tree. Take your pick as these were ashes and not a cadaver that were returned to the US.

        I often find reading the story first most illuminating.

        1. tmTM

          Re: Take your pick as these were ashes

          The death certificate was obtained in Moldova, using a human corpse dressed in the mans clothes and carrying his identity documents.

          That corpse was then cremated, the ashes and death certificate brought back to the USA.

        2. Dave Bell

          Re: "nice prosumer Canon camera."

          Yes, but somehow the plot had to be good enough to get a death certificate in Moldavia. There was either human corpse, or a hefty bribe.

        3. Alister Silver badge

          Re: "nice prosumer Canon camera."

          @AC

          I often find reading the story first most illuminating.

          I find reading the story and understanding its contents even more illuminating, as it prevents one making crass and inaccurate comments later...

          Quote:

          Igor staged his death in Moldova by arranging for the corpse of an unknown person to be placed between two bushes at the entrance of the Cojusna village in Moldova and placing in the clothes of the corpse lgor's passport and other identification documents

          1. 404 Silver badge

            Re: "nice prosumer Canon camera."

            Wondered why they didn't fingerprint or otherwise identify the body, then considered Bumfuck, Moldova and 'hear hoof beats, expect horses', not zebras... Very plausible for damn near any small town/village anywhere.

            Disclaimer: happen to live in Bumfuck, Tennessee - so could be considered an authority or at least a witness.

      3. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

        Re: "nice prosumer Canon camera."

        ".....Which happens to be an EOS, not a IOS - AFAIK Apple didn't buy Canon yet.... anyway, they didn't look to spend much on cameras despite the millions stolen <G>...."

        --

        Actually, the INTERNAL APPLE rumour mill has the Apple Board and CEO Tim Cook looking at BUYING BOTH Canon (for their MASSIVE chip-making and optics patent portfolio) and TI (Texas Instruments) for their massive ARM CHIP production capacity and DSP (Digital Signal Processor) patent portfolio.

        From my VERY GOOD SECRET SOURCES, Apple's offer for Canon MAY be on the order of nearly $60 Billion US and TI shareholders will be offered $25 Billion which are pretty hefty stock premiums....BUT.... I personally think because of BOTH companies' patent portfolios AND their internal chip-making capacities, this would make sense for Apple to do. Apple can afford to buy BOTH companies AND still have tons of cash left over.

        I do know from some of the HIGHEST LEVEL SOURCES, that Apple is AGGRESSIVELY buying out entire patent portfolios for CPU, GPU and IMAGE SENSOR chip-making patents, quantum dot and chip-LED displays, 5G and newly-extended 6G wireless technologies, Sapphire-on-Polycarbonate screen coverings and A.I. systems software.

        Don't be surprised to see Canon and/or Texas Instruments in Apple's hands by the of next year or by 2020!

        Canon and TI are GREAT targets to go after!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I'll have what she's smoking.

          @Canadian Bombastic Bob Wannabe Meets Bizarre Fantastist- er, sorry @StargateSg7....

          Your rumours are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

    2. AdamWill

      Re: A bit torn

      "On the one hand he had a Sony laptop, so probably getting what he deserves"

      Sony have made some extremely good laptops. I still use my 2010-model Vaio Z:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sony_Vaio_Z_series#VPC-Z_Update_(2010)

      that thing was *seriously* ahead of its time.

  2. OssianScotland

    You would really expect an Igor to be better organised than that - a new face and digits at the very least....

    …. GNU Pterry

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      You would really expect an Igor to be better organised than that - a new face and digits at the very least...

      And/or at least change the time stamp on the camera.... A two minute (at most) job.

      1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
        Facepalm

        RTFA. It wasn't the timestamp that gave it away. It was that the photos were taken on a camera that wasn't released until after he 'died'.

        1. jmch Silver badge

          "RTFA. It wasn't the timestamp that gave it away. It was that the photos were taken on a camera that wasn't released until after he 'died'. "

          True, but surely if he's changing the timestamp metadata he could also have changed the 'taken with' metadata.

          1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

            @jmch - You would need to change the metadata of the photo to have consistent info with that fights the story. Not necessarily hard to do but something one needs to be alert to and make sure all the photos in the group are consistent, more of a pain than many realize. All it would take is a semi-bright spark to realize the metadata is inconsistent to start playing 20 questions with them. Looking at my photos, the camera model, timestamp, camera settings, and location (latitude & longitude) are recorded. Location may not be available depending on the settings used with the camera.

            1. Hans 1 Silver badge
              Holmes

              Don't carry photos of undead "dead" people on devices seems to be the easiest solution to this problem.

        2. Scroticus Canis
          Holmes

          RTFA indeed - "...explains that in June 2013, someone told the FBI that Igor was alive."

          The time stamps and the camera were just evidence that the authorities were ALREADY LOOKING FOR.

          FFS RTFA before leaping to the wrong conclusion. Meh!

        3. Tomato42 Silver badge

          right, because only the camera model in metadata would give it away, definitely not the resolution and image characteristics of a camera not available before his time of death /s

    2. macjules Silver badge

      And hopefully not using c-mail: Yethmathter.Uberwald ..

  3. veti Silver badge

    I must be a bit slow...

    Because it's only just now occurred to me that the name of 'Reginald Iolanthe Perrin' was artfully crafted for the initials.

    GNU David Nobbs.

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Rustbucket

      Re: Hang on

      RTFA. It was the wife and son who went back to the US. It was only the husband's photos that ratted them out.

  5. JassMan Silver badge
    Joke

    I thought Igor was just the lab assistant

    It was supposed to be Frankenstein's monster that came back to life

    1. Chozo

      Re: I thought Igor was just the lab assistant

      Ah no, that's cousin Igor you're thinking of.

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

        Re: I thought Igor was just the lab assistant

        Yeth, marthter? You called marthter?

        It'th nithe to thee tho many great mindth thinking alike (and tho many Igorth) in thith thread

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
          Happy

          Re: I thought Igor was just the lab assistant

          You're going to dry your keyboard after typing that...

          1. 404 Silver badge

            Re: I thought Igor was just the lab assistant

            it's iGor...

            'Whose brain is it?'

            'Abby something, Abby Normal.. Yes, that's it.'

  6. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Lesson learned

    Next time Irina, actually plant that sucker in the ground.

    I was in a gardening shop just the other day. One of their items was a selection of garden crop row marking stakes. Rather decorative, labeled as "Peas", "Beans", "Carrots", "Husbands", ....

  7. Tigra 07 Silver badge

    Why isn't his wife getting a prison sentence instead of probation? She received the money and claimed the death occurred in the first place.

    1. AndyS

      The article says she is though? 37 months.

      Their son received probation, presumably as he wasn't involved in the initial crime, just the proceeds of it.

      1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
        Facepalm

        "The son, said to have become aware of the fraud no later than April 2013, pleaded guilty to concealing and failing to report his family's fraud scheme and was sentenced to three years of probation. Along with his mother, he is required to return the fraudulently obtained funds."

        I misread the end of the article as sentenced to three years of probation along with his mother. Still, she should be getting at least the same sentence as her husband, since she actually perpetrated the scam...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lesson learned

    When faking your death you have to be paranoid and play it safe by prohibiting any technology from being near by. Probably good idea to let as few people in on it as possible, too.

    If you go down this road you have to face the intrinsic limitations of this lifestyle (in so far as you don't want to get caught).

    I'd stay well away from the internet.

    Not a life for everyone :)

    1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: Lesson learned

      Very true. Something similar caused 'canoe man' to get his comeuppance.

  9. Shooter

    Why isn't his wife getting a prison sentence instead of probation? She received the money and claimed the death occurred in the first place.

    Irina pleaded guilty, so likely got a plea bargain - lighter sentence for avoiding the trouble and expense of a trial, while still allowing the prosecutor to claim a conviction.

    Igor hasn't been to trial yet. They will use the threat of a 20 year maximum sentence as a bludgeon with which to beat him into pleading guilty as well.

  10. adam payne Silver badge

    The first rule of death club is not to be seen alive

    The second rule is not to leave a ton of evidence so that you can get caught.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Judging by "Fargo"

    Minnesota is clearly a dangerous place - even if most people are polite.

  12. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    Mail fraud?

    I'm intrigued by the way fraud offenses in the USA seem to be categorised by the transmission medium - mail fraud, wire fraud. If you defraud somebody by talking to them, is that 'speech fraud'? Can you avoid conviction by perpetrating your fraud over a novel medium?

    IANAL, but as far as I know fraud in the UK is just fraud (or possibly 'obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception').

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Mail fraud?

      In the US, it is illegal to use the mail or phone in the commission of a crime. Mail fraud is automatically a feral level crime as it involves abusing the USPO. I believe wire fraud is also feral level. Basically these laws are really intended to nail crime syndicates on feral level charges but the ferals will use them on anybody. The mail and wire fraud occurred because the mail/wire were used to send the false information to the home office and send the money to the 'widow'. What crimes were committed in Moldava are not clear but the Ferals have something to nail them with.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Mail fraud?

        > In the US, it is illegal to use the mail or phone in the commission of a crime.

        ... but it's legal to use other things in the commission of a crime? :-)

      2. 6491wm

        Re: Mail fraud?

        Feral ?

        Somebody gone wild?

  13. Jamie Jones Silver badge
    Coat

    "That's a lesson learned too late by Igor Vorotinov"

    "That's a lesson learned too late by the not too late Igor Vorotinov, "

    FTFY

    (thank-you, I'm here all week...... oh.. it's Friday...)

  14. ratfox Silver badge

    Bypassing warrant rules

    The fake death story is funny and all, yes. But what's more interesting to me is this:

    The feds apparently used the fact that border agents can search laptops without a warrant to fish for evidence.

    While you are in the US, the police generally need a warrant to search for your things. At the border, border agents apparently can do whatever they want, even if it is completely unrelated to assessing whether you are entering the country legally or not.

    1. A.P. Veening

      Re: Bypassing warrant rules

      True, there have been enough stories about it (as well as complaints the that already reached as high as SCOTUS).

  15. Slarti Bartfast

    pleaded guilty to concealing and failing to report his family's fraud scheme

    Is that one crime "concealing and failing to report"? If so the second part seems redundant. Or is it two separate crimes? If "failing to report" someone else's crime is a crime then I need to urgently speak to the police about several thousand things. Including that car I saw speeding this morning.

    1. Hans 1 Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: pleaded guilty to concealing and failing to report his family's fraud scheme

      @Slarti

      Upvoted for the laugh ...

      But, you have to distinguish crimes from mere offences.

      If you are a witness to a crime, and fraud is a crime, then you must report it.

      You do not have to report offences, you may, in which case you will get laughed at at the police station, but you can at least.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When the pair returned to the US from a trip to Moldova in November 2013, CBP agents seized their laptops. A warrant was issued shortly thereafter.

    Should I comment. OK, I will bite.

    While they most likely had a probable cause and a judge would have given them a search warrant anyway, they did what?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's not clear to me what happened either:

      - The police suspected those people

      - They seized the laptops at the border, for which they did not need any warrant

      - A warrant was issued after... A search warrant for searching the laptops? Or an arrest warrant, to arrest the people?

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