How the FBI caught a $2M life insurance fraud after a man faked his death

A Minnesota family nearly made off with $2 million from a life insurance policy for a man who faked his own death, until authorities found more recent photos of the man alive on his son’s laptop.

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A federal judge sentenced 55-year-old Moldovan national Igor Vorotinov this week to 41 months in prison for faking his death in order to collect the life insurance payout.

Vorotinov obtained an insurance policy on his own life from Mutual of Omaha in 2010, according to the FBI. The next year, police in Cojusna, Moldova — a former Soviet republic sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine — responded to a report of a dead body and identified the man as Vorotinov based on the passport and other documents they found on the body.

Neither the police officer nor the morgue had a camera, according to investigators later sent by the insurance company.

Vorotinov’s wife, Irina Vorotinov, traveled to Moldova and identified the body as her husband while accompanied by a U.S. embassy representative, the FBI said. She had the body cremated, and soon returned home to Minnesota with the ashes and a Moldovan death certificate.

Irina filed a claim with the insurance company the next month, and after its own investigation, the company mailed her a check for $2,048,414.09.

But three years later, the FBI received a tip in early 2013 that Igor had faked his death for the insurance money, and that he was living in Ukraine under a new identity — Nikoly Patoka, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

In the meantime, Irina and the couple’s adult son, Alkon Vorotinov, had opened a bank account, deposited the life insurance check and begun transferring some of the money overseas. Together, they sent more than $1.5 million to accounts in Switzerland and Moldova between 2012 and 2015, the FBI said.

Igor Vorotinov

The FBI was investigating the tip, and in November 2013, Customs and Border Patrol agents in Detroit stopped Alkon and his fiancée as they were returning to Minnesota from Moldova. Agents seized the couple’s laptops and obtained a search warrant for the devices.

The agents found photos from April and May of 2013 — more than a year after Igor had supposedly died — showing him “very much alive,” according to the FBI.

Authorities charged Irina and Alkon in January 2015.

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Irina Vorotinov pleaded guilty to mail fraud and engaging in a monetary transaction in criminally derived property and was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison. Alkon Vorotinov pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony and was sentenced to three years of probation.

In November 2018, police in Moldova arrested Igor. He was extradited to the U.S. soon after. He pleaded guilty last month. The family has also been ordered to pay back the money in restitution.