The Dangers of Faking Your Death: Jose Lantigua's $9 Million Insurance Scam

Insurance companies provide protection and a financial safety net for grieving family members who have experienced a tremendous loss. They are not something that most people ever hope to use.

But for some, insurance policies represent something entirely different: a way to make a quick buck.

Jose Lantigua, a businessman from Jacksonville, Florida, just might be a member of that latter group.

According to lawsuits filed by Lantigua's insurance companies, the 62-year-old furniture business owner faked his death while on vacation in Venezuela. Allegedly, Lantigua used false documents to con a whopping seven different insurance companies into cashing out policies worth $9 million dollars. Now, Lantigua and his estate are in some hot legal water.

Jose Lantigua Allegedly Faked His Death, But Are The Insurance Companies Innocent?

Lantigua was arrested in Buncombe County, North Carolina on Saturday, March 21st. His wife Daphne was also taken into custody. As the insurance companies tell it, Lantigua went on vacation in 2013 in Venezuela, pretended to be ill, and had falsified death papers used to collect on his life insurance policies. These actions left Lantigua's furniture business in a huge amount of debt and deceived all of the people who gathered to mourn the supposedly-dead businessman in the Jacksonville area.

However, the insurance companies may not be total victims in this case. According to the Jacksonville Business Journal, attorneys representing Hartford Life and Annuity Insurance Co. altered documents from the Venezuelan government showing that Lantigua had died. The insurance company claims that they had no knowledge of these alterations, despite Lantigua's son publicly accusing the company of lying about whether or not they knowingly falsified the documents.

So what really happened? No one except Lantigua himself knows for sure, but we do know that Lantigua is alive and well even though papers from Venezuela reported him dead. This case is an interesting, multifaceted one that could involve deception from multiple parties. Lantigua's furniture store is millions of dollars in debt and facing several civil lawsuits, while Lantigua himself is charged with insurance fraud. This is the type of complex, tangled case that a private investigator would be perfect for.

How a Los Angeles PI Can Sniff Out Insurance Fraud 

While it's certainly true that these types of allegations are difficult to unravel and in some cases never get fully solved, a private investigator can do many things to help detect fraud. Whether you are an insurance company or a creditor who suspects someone of deceiving you, hiring a private investigator is a great idea for several reasons:

  • Surveillance services: if someone who has supposedly died gets seen in public, it's safe to paraphrase Mark Twain and declare that the reports of their death have been greatly exaggerated. A private investigator can stake out an area where you think someone who has committed insurance fraud might be seen
  • Witness interviews: are there people who might have seen the person that you think has faked their death or committed another type of fraud? A private investigator can interview them in a sensitive manner to find out what they know
  • Courtroom testimony: a skilled private investigator will put together a thorough report that documents all of the information that they were able to find about a suspected insurance scammer. Often, these reports can have a huge impact on the decision of a judge and/or jury

In the coming months, Jose Lantigua's case will be decided by the justice system. If you are in the southern California area and believe that someone may have committed fraud against you, it's important that you get a fair shot at justice yourself. Hiring a skilled private investigator will help you find out whether or not someone has scammed you out of money and help you recover what you are owed.

Published on: 
March 25, 2015
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