London: An Indian-origin British businessman has been jailed for two-and-a-half years by a UK court for faking his own death to claim over 1 million pounds in insurance pay-out.
Sanjay Kumar pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court in London to six counts of insurance fraud. His wife, Anju Kumar, pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud.
While Sanjay was jailed for two-and-a-half years, his wife received a five-month sentence, suspended for two years.
The court heard this week how the 45-year-old businessman from Hertfordshire flew to India in November 2011 and emailed his wife to say he was ill in hospital.
She later received a further email detailing his death from “brain fever”.
A fake death and cremation certificate was presented to Aviva, Scottish Provident and Legal & General insurance firms in the UK in order to secure a total pay-out of 1,155,789.38 pounds.
Investigations by the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) found no evidence of Kumar having been admitted to hospital, no cause of death certificate and no evidence that the crematorium existed.
Kumar returned to England in August 2012 under an assumed name and was arrested the following month along with his wife.
The couple, who have sons aged 19 and 20 and a daughter aged 17, had planned to start afresh in India as Anju claimed they were forced into the hoax by Afghan gangsters holding them to “ransom”.
“What would you do if a gun was being held to your head? It was three men from Afghanistan, due to a sour business deal with my husband’s business partner,” she told the ‘Evening Standard’.
“They were asking for a huge ransom. Our three cars were smashed outside our house and my tyres slashed. They told us they’d kidnap us. Police were called seven or eight times…but all they did was take a crime reference,” she said.
At the time of her arrest, Anju had received 10,615.49 pounds.
Sentencing the pair, Judge Peter Higgins said the scheme was professionally planned, showing “deplorable” and “deeply anti-social” behaviour.
“You saw in the policies and their criminal use there was a way of discharging your debts and as a way of starting a new, financially comfortable, life in India,” he said.
The court heard that Kumar had civil judgments awarded against him due to unsuccessful, but legitimate, business ventures.
Detective Constable Tom Hill, who led a City of London Police inquiry, said: “The uncovering of one lie exposed several more from the Kumars as they attempted to get their hands on a massive pay-out.”