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Man sentenced for impersonating partner to make £1m fake death claim

The man pretended to be his wife on the phone, claiming that he’d died from a heart attack in Karachi, Pakistan
If his fraudulent claim had been successful, he would have received £999,999

A man has been sentenced after he impersonated his partner on the phone to try and fake his own death in Pakistan and make a false insurance claim worth a total of £999,999.

On Thursday 16 January 2020, Syed Bukhari, 39, who is currently serving seven years and 11 months in prison for unrelated fraud offences*, was convicted at Inner London Crown Court. He was sentenced to five years and seven months in prison, which will run consecutively to his current sentence. 

It comes after a successful investigation by the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED), which resulted in Bukhari pleading guilty to one count of fraud by false representation a month earlier (Thursday 19 December 2019). 

IFED launched their investigation into Bukhari following a referral from an insurer. They suspected Bukhari had tried to make a fake claim on his life insurance policy with them.
It was discovered that Bukhari had initially contacted his insurance company via email purporting to be his partner, claiming that he’d died from a heart attack in Karachi, Pakistan. Bukhari also impersonated his partner on the phone in an attempt to validate the claim and progress it further. 

However, a voice analysis expert compared Bukhari’s voice to the one on the calls allegedly made by his partner and determined that there was strong support to advocate that the ‘unknown speaker’ on the call was Bukhari. 

Acting Detective Sergeant Mike Monkton, who led the investigation for the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED), said:

“Not only did Bukhari try and fake his own death and steal hundreds of thousands of pounds from his insurer, he was also brazen enough to impersonate his partner in a bid to progress his claim. 

“If he’d been successful, he would’ve benefited up to the sum of £999,999, but thanks to the initial enquiries carried out by the insurer and their subsequent referral to IFED, we were able to uncover the full extent of his fraudulent activity and bring him to justice.”

IFED enquiries also revealed that Bukhari submitted fake documents to try and substantiate his claim, including a medical certificate of cause of death, a death registration certificate and a trust document. 

Similarly to the phone calls with his insurance company, there were several discrepancies with these documents and when IFED tested the medical certificate for fingerprints, three marks were identified as belonging to Bukhari. 

The insurer also instructed an independent claims investigation company to carry out further checks in Pakistan, based on the documents that had been provided by Bukhari. The investigator found that the cemetery named on the death certificate, where Bukhari had allegedly been buried, had no record in their register of it happening on the date listed or a week either side.  

Additionally, the investigator attend the Union Council Offices where the death registration certificate recorded the alleged death of Bukhari. However, upon checking the file which should have contained various details about the death (e.g. ID number of the deceased, death certificate from the hospital), it was empty. 

Finally, the investigator visited the supposed medical centre listed on the medical certificate of cause of death but could not find any sign of the premises existing in Karachi. A doctor from a nearby hospital also said he’d never heard of the medical centre.

Despite this overwhelming evidence, Bukhari initially denied the fraud and said it was his partner who made the claim without his knowledge. He later pleaded guilty at court. 

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