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Criminal Law: British man faked own death, arrested in Australia

Hugo Jose Sanchez, also known as Alfredo, has been arrested in Australia for fraud after faking his own death and fraudulently claiming £1.25 million in insurance with the help of his wife Sophie.

Mrs Sanchez had informed her husband's employers, HMV, that he had died and been cremated while on a holiday to South America in 2005.

Ecuador-born Mr Sanchez worked as a web developer for HMV, based in Marlow, Buckinghamshire. His employers became suspicious when Mr Sanchez's staff card was allegedly used several times after his death had been reported.

The police became involved and they examined Mr Sanchez's death certificate on which they allegedly found his fingerprints.

Once the police were convinced that Mr Sanchez was still alive, a five-year manhunt began culminating with his arrest in Sydney on Wednesday 2 November.

The police suspected that the Sanchez family had moved to Australia and when Mrs Sanchez returned to Britain for her sister's wedding last September, she was arrested and sentenced to two years' imprisonment.

When Mr Sanchez was arrested by Australian Federal Police, he claimed that he was "innocent until proven guilty".

He said: "I don't deny anything and I don't accept anything."

Thames Valley Police are currently seeking Mr Sanchez's extradition back to the UK.

Detective Constable Jacqui Bartlett said: "Hopefully this will be the final stage in what has been a prolonged case.

"It is anticipated that the extradition process will take anything from several months to quite possibly years, depending on whether Mr Sanchez exercises his right to appeal."

Although faking your own death in itself is not a crime, fraudulently claiming insurance payouts is an offence. It is punishable by up to ten years in prison, a fine or both.

Related links:
Read more on the story (BBC)
How to register a death legally (FindLaw)
Find local criminal solicitors throughout the UK (FindLaw)