Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Playing Dead

I just finished reading Playing Dead by Elizabeth Greenwood. It's about death fraud. That's when someone fakes their death.

For some reason I've always been interested in people who totally give up their old lives and move onto something new. There is nothing that cuts ties to one's past like faking one's death. That is, of course, with the exception of actually dying.

It's not a how to book but an examination of those who tried it. Of course, Elizabeth was only able to interview those who failed. Perhaps there are those out there who've succeeded so well that they are still getting away with it.

There is no crime called “faking one's death.” The big crime that people run afoul of is insurance fraud. That's not an easy crime to get away with as insurance companies will put a lot of effort and employ skilled people to avoid a claim that seems sketchy.

Some people fake their death in an attempt to avoid prison time. Law enforcement goes the extra mile when someone facing prison time disappears.

Many people think drowning is a good way to fake one's death. You probably thought it was a good plan too. (like I did!) Unfortunately for the guy playing dead, bodies eventually show up in the vast majority of cases. When one does not it's suspicious.

What did surprise me is how often people completely disappear while hiking. Bodies go missing all the time in the woods. Kinda spooky really. It's not a great plan for someone looking to commit insurance fraud. Without a body it takes years before someone is declared legally dead.

My lovely wife is a bit disturbed with my fascination with the subject. She actually came out and asked me if I wanted to fake my death and disappear. No worries. If I want to disappear for a while I'll just disappear -while letting my lovely wife know about it. No need to get my loved ones upset thinking I died. The ones left behind are the ones who really suffer. Either they have to deal with the death of someone close or they are in on the scam and have a terrible burden to bear. Those who assist often end up doing jail time themselves.

I am one one of those people who dread and fear routine. Because I know that I don't let myself get trapped in a hum drum life. That's what it would take for me to fake my death.



  1. Well, if we don't hear from you for a while, we'll know the urge was just too strong!

    1. I've found I don't have to fake my death to go off and have adventures or to remake my life.

  2. I think that most of the people who fake their deaths are trying to escape their problems (debt - life choices, etc.). The fallacy of that is you often bring your problems along with you, wherever you go.

  3. Joining the French Foreign Legion is a good way to erase past lives. The french gvt will issue you a new identity if you join.

    1. It's a reasonable choice for a certain type of person. You've got to love the military life though.

  4. There are a lot of elderly people living alone who in the eyes of the younger generation, have disappeared.