Faking death: Why do people go to such lengths to escape?

Who hasn’t fantasised about running away from it all and disappearing to some exotic locale? Faking death has a certain macabre appeal but, as Len Williams discovers, the realities of ‘pseudocide’ are rather less attractive

<p>Vanishing acts? Stonehouse, Babchenko and Darwin </p>

Vanishing acts? Stonehouse, Babchenko and Darwin

It was a tragic end. Arafa Nassib, 47, of Walsall, was killed in a car accident while travelling in Zanzibar. Documents showed that the British national died of a severe head injury in April 2016 while visiting family in Tanzania. Her death certificate was signed by a Doctor Mosi at Zanzibar’s Mnazi Mmoja hospital. The death certificate also mentioned the Bumbwini graveyard where Nassib’s body lay at rest.

But then things started getting strange. Detective Constable Daryl Fryatt of the City of London’s insurance fraud department says his team were contacted by Scottish Widows, Nassib’s life insurance company. Fryatt explains that when her 18-year-old son submitted the life insurance claim just a few weeks after her death, red flags started popping up.

Scottish Widows hired private investigators and sent them to Zanzibar (a pretty good gig by the sounds of it) to check up on the back story, Fryatt says. Although her death certificate was authentic, when the investigators visited the Mnazi Mmoja hospital, administrators told them that the doctor who had signed the paperwork couldn't have done so, since he wasn't in the country at the time. Then there was the matter of her body. On visiting the graveyard in Bumbwini, staff there had no record of a funeral or burial plot. Then there was the Zanzibar police. They had no record of a car-crash death on the date in question. “You would expect at least a forensics report and documentation surrounding a death like this,” says Fryatt. Yet none appeared to exist.

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