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Man fakes his own death to claim $5 million life insurance

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A deadly cobra bite for $ 5 million

A 54-year-old allegedly had a man who looked like him killed by a cobra in order to fake his own death and steal millions. But the insurance company became suspicious.

A man in India is said to have faked his own death to steal five million dollars from his US life insurance. The 54-year-old had a poor man who looked like him killed with a cobra as a “murder weapon,” as reported by local media, citing the police.

However, the conspiracy collapsed when the insurance company dispatched an investigator to investigate, and police detained the accused and four of his collaborators over the last week.

According to law enforcement agencies, Prabhakar Bhimaji Waghchaure had been residing in the United States for the past 20 years before returning to India in January and settling in Rajur village in the Ahmednagar district.

On April 22, police at Ahmednagar’s Rajur police station received the news of Waghchaure’s death from the local government hospital.

When a police officer arrived at the hospital, a man introduced himself as Waghchaure’s nephew, Praveen. Another person, Harshad Lahamge of Rajur, also identified the body as that of Waghchaure.

After getting the preliminary medical report, which showed that the cause of death was a snakebite, the body was given to the nephew for final rites.

The conspiracy began to unravel, however, when representatives from the insurance company investigating Waghchaure’s life insurance claim called Ahmednagar authorities to inquire about his death.

Police first went to Waghchaure’s house in Rajur as part of their investigation. A neighbour stated that she had not heard of any snakebite incidents but had seen an ambulance arrive at the residence during the alleged incident. When authorities reached Lahamge, he reported that Praveen had died as a result of Covid.

When authorities were unable to locate any relatives of the deceased, they began investigating Waghchaure’s call records, which proved that he was not only alive, but had posed as Praveen at the hospital. Waghchaure was arrested not long after.

Ahmednagar SP Manoj Patil on Monday said, “The insurance claims investigator had started digging deep into the claim on Waghchaure’s death because he had fraudulently claimed the death of his wife for a life insurance claim in 2017. His wife is alive… Waghchaure and other conspirators hatched an elaborate plan. Probe has revealed that they
procured a cobra from a snake rescuer. They found a destitute person, with similar looks as that of Waghchaure, and had killed him with the bite of the cobra. Waghchaure himself posed as his nephew Praveen and reported the snakebite death.”

Police have named the dead as Navnath Yashwant Aanap (50), who lived in the same neighbourhood.

Waghchaure began living at a new address in the district just days before the death, according to the police investigation. Sandeep Talekar and Prashant Chaudhary, two of his relatives, tracked down Aanap and Lahamge, who had obtained a cobra from a snake rescuer.

On April 22, the accused dragged Aanap to a remote place where a snake handler named Harish Kulal coaxed the cobra to bite Aanap on the toe.

Aanap’s body was transported to Waghchaure’s house after he died, and an ambulance was called.

Waghchaure later identified the body in the hospital while posing as Praveen, and the final rites were administered with only the suspects in case present. Waghchaure moved the US-based firm for the life insurance claims on behalf of his family days later, after getting the death certificate, officials said.

Patil said, “We have now arrested Waghchaure and his four accomplices. Waghchaure has promised Rs 35 lakh to the other suspects. We are also contemplating action against the snake rescuer from whom the suspect procured the cobra.

“Our probe shows that the fact that Waghchaure was living abroad for a long time and hardly anyone knew him here, worked in his favour.”

Image Credit: Getty

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