Man accused of faking own death for money nabbed in Moldova
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A man accused of faking his own death seven years ago to collect a $2 million life insurance policy was arrested in Moldova after he was found alive and was returned to Minnesota to face a federal charge, authorities announced Tuesday.
Igor Vorotinov, 54, was indicted in 2015 on one count of mail fraud. He was arrested last week and arrived in the U.S. on Saturday, U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald said.
Prosecutors allege in court documents that Vorotinov took out the life insurance policy in spring 2010 and designated his then-wife, Irina Vorotinov, as the primary beneficiary. The couple divorced later that year.
The scheme began to unfold in 2011, when police in Moldova were notified about a body at the entrance of the Cojusna village, in central Moldova. Documents with the body included Vorotinov’s passport and hotel cards.
Prosecutors say Irina Vorotinov traveled to Moldova and identified the body as her ex-husband’s. She then returned to the U.S. with a death certificate and cremated remains, and collected more than $2 million on his life insurance policy. Prosecutors say money ultimately was transferred to the couple’s son and to accounts in Switzerland and Moldova.
According to court documents, the FBI started investigating after an agent in Minnesota got a tip in June 2013 from an unknown person in Moldova who said Vorotinov had staged his own death. Later that year, his son, Alkon Vorotinov, was returning from a trip to Moldova when he was stopped by Customs and Border Protection in Detroit. His computer contained digital photographs of his father that were taken that year, showing he was alive.
The scheme also included a 2011 funeral service at a Minneapolis cemetery, where the urn was placed in a niche. As part of the investigation, the ashes were removed from the cemetery in 2015, tested and determined not to be Vorotinov’s.
Irina Vorotinov, 51, has pleaded guilty to two counts for her role in the plot and is serving a three-year prison sentence.
Alkon Vorotinov, 28, pleaded guilty to one count and was sentenced to probation. At the time of his sentencing, his attorney said he came to the scheme late and believed his father was dead for more than a year. The Star Tribune reported that after initially telling authorities his father was the victim of a kidnap-for-ransom plot, he agreed to cooperate and said his father had been living in Moldova and Ukraine under another name.
Together, Irina and Alkon Vorotinov must repay more than $2 million to the insurance company.
A preliminary hearing for Igor Vorotinov is scheduled for next week. His attorney, Hillary Parsons, did not immediately return a Tuesday message seeking comment.
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