A former web developer for the big British retail store HMV faked his own death in Ecuador to live a ‘dream life’ in Costa Rica. Hugo Jose Sanchez and his wife Sophie conspired to fake his death in his native country of Ecuador in order to cash in on insurance, his pension and other money scams amounting to around 1.3 million US dollars. A misguided use of his company discount card by a friend began to unravel the scheme.
Sanchez was having financial problems at home when he began to develop contacts in Costa Rica wanting to build a Disney-like 3D Animation studio there. Trouble began when his partners started pressuring him to raise funds for the project and he was unable to do so. After expressing to them that he was actually in a bit of a financial jam things got worse and Costa Rica became a dangerous place for him. Then the plan to fake his own death.
He maxed out his credit cards and bought insurance on his debts among other things and went to Ecuador where he somehow obtained a death certificate and his wife reported to his employer HMV that he had died of a heart attack. HMV actually paid for her to go to Ecuador to attend his funeral. After that Sophie began to cash in on the various policies and expunge his debt. Sanchez eventually fled Costa Rica for Australia.
A seemingly innocuous purchase of an Elvis cd by a friend using Sanchez’s HMV discount card alerted authorities. The friend was detained by police and when he called Sanchez for help Sanchez simply hung up the phone. The next piece of bad luck was when another friend, this time of Sophie’s, mistakenly received some mail pertaining to one of the insurance claims- after which she notified authorities. The final straw was when police discovered Sanchez’s fingerprints on his own death certificate after which his wife was arrested when she came home to England to attend her sister’s wedding.
Sophie Sanchez was tried, convicted and sentenced to two years in jail.
Sanchez was eventually picked up in Australia and held there pending extradition. While in jail he was roughed up a bit by some other prisoners who believed he had access to a substantial amount of money and wanted a piece of it. He was eventually returned to Britain and has since been sentenced to five years in jail of which he will serve half.
Sanchez faces deportation, most likely to Ecuador, after serving his sentence and interestingly enough his co-conspirator was another unwitting victim in this case. She only knew him by his brother’s name- Alfredo. They had four children together.