Indian scammers are “fake-killing” people to claim life insurance payouts, Bloomberg reported. Husbands and wives have told insurers their living spouses were dead, and siblings made up imaginary siblings. According to the report, scammers were rarely related to the supposedly dead person. India is home to countless scams, but Amina Parbin told Bloomberg she never imagined that someone would come to her house to tell her she was dead despite being very much alive.
Parbin, who lives in a small town in the state of Assam, recalled the time a life insurance investigator visited her and produced documents including her “death certificate”. After her family persuaded him that the certificate was a fraud, they learned that a claim had been filed by her estranged husband for a life insurance policy she had no knowledge of.
In the US, scammers pocketed an estimated $30 billion last year. According to a report by Truecaller, almost 60 million Americans fell victim to a phone scam that same year. The total cost of non-health insurance fraud is estimated at some $40 billion a year, according to the FBI. Indian fraudsters have been able to make thousands of dollars by claiming people have died. Ismail Hussain, who was advised by a friend to make up an imaginary brother, forged birth records and bribed the local high school headmaster to issue a fake graduation diploma.
Hussain paid $192 for a $32,000 policy that he claimed in 2017. He “killed” his non-existent brother five years after creating him. His friend, Manik Ali, told Bloomberg that he’d gotten the idea of insurance fraud while working as a claims investigator. When Hussain claimed the life insurance policy, he collected more than 12 times the typical worker is paid in two years. In India, the national minimum wage is about $2.25 a day, or $62 a month.
Parbin divorced her husband after she found out he was trying to use her fake death to claim on a life insurance policy. The village elders where she lives ordered him to apologize and pay her $2,600. In February, various India-based call centers and their directors were indicted for scamming Americans over the phone, telling them their social security numbers were involved in crimes and that they owed tax money.