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Faking your death

Fraud Alert:

A few years ago, as she delicately puts it, Elizabeth Greenwood decided that she had “screwed herself financially.” Saddled with more than $100,000 in college debt, she joked to a friend over dinner that her plan was to become a “highly sought-after public intellectual” who would pay it off by giving TED Talks. If that failed, her friend said, Greenwood could always fake her own death and disappear to a tropical island. She was intrigued by the notion.

In her book, Playing Dead: A Journey Through the World of Death Fraud (Simon & Schuster; $26), Greenwood peels the lid off a cottage industry devoted to helping people vanish. She tracks down Frank Ahearn, a foulmouthed New Yorker who claims to have helped more than 50 people disappear, charging them about $30,000 apiece. She swills Coronas with Steve Rambam, a cynical investigator who chases death fakers in the Philippines, where you can rent a corpse and hire locals to stage a mock funeral as evidence of your untimely expiration. She travels to England to meet John Darwin, who faked a canoeing accident in 2002 and collected more than £280,000 (about $371,000 today) in insurance benefits; and to Los Angeles, where she visits a woman who goes by the name Pearl Jr. who’s convinced that Michael Jackson faked his death and is now living secretly among us, waiting for the right moment to reveal himself. Greenwood also introduces us to people—and there are many—who pretended to die at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 to scam charitable organizations…..

Full Article: A Look at the Weird, Wild World of Death Fraud – Bloomberg