Moldova To Minnesota: Man Allegedly Faked Death For $2 Million Insurance Payout
BY RUBEN KIMMELMAN
In 2011, police in central Moldova responded to a call reporting a dead body.
They found a passport, hotel cards and contact phone numbers belonging to a Minnesota man Igor Vorotinov. Irina Vorotinov was notified and traveled to the small Eastern European nation and identified the body as her ex-husband’s.
She returned to the U.S. with a death certificate and an urn of ashes.
The urn was then placed in a mausoleum at the Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis — the same city where, on Monday, Igor Vorotinov made his first appearance before United States Magistrate Judge Kate Menendez.
The 54-year-old has been implicated in a family scheme to cheat an insurance company out of a large sum of money by faking his death, according to a statement from the District of Minnesota U.S. Attorney’s Office released Tuesday.
U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald announced that Vorotinov had been arrested in Moldova last week on a single charge of mail fraud. He was subsequently turned over to the FBI and extradited to the U.S. by the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs on Saturday.
The alleged con, which has already produced two guilty pleas from the accused’s ex-wife and their son, began to take shape over eight years ago.
In March 2010, a little more than a year after filing for divorce, Vorotinov took out a $2 million insurance policy on his own life from Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company. He listed Irina Vorotinov as the primary beneficiary, who received a check for the entire amount plus some in 2012, a year after identifying the body. In 2016, she was sentenced to 37 months in prison after pleading guilty to both mail fraud and engaging in a monetary transaction in criminally derived property.
As for the money, a majority of the policy’s payout was transferred to a U.S. bank account baring the name of the couple’s son, Alkon Vorotinov.
According to court documents:
Between March 29, 2012 and January 2015, more than $1.5 million of the life insurance proceeds were transferred to accounts located in Switzerland and Moldova.
In 2016, Alkon was sentenced to jointly pay, along with his mother, $2,056,554 in restitution after pleading guilty to concealing a felony.
While the 28-year-old avoided jail time for his involvement, it was his 2013 slip-up that in part led to the unraveling of the family’s story.
According to the Minnesota Star Tribune, “A tipster in Moldova told an FBI agent in June 2013 that Igor Vorotinov had staged his death and was living in Ukraine under a new identity.”
Later that year, the son was returning to the U.S. from a trip to Moldova and was stopped in by Customs and Border Protection in Detroit. Agents seized his computer, where they found images of his father taken in April and May 2013, almost two years after his supposed death.
As reported by the Star Tribune, the son’s defense attorney said his client was originally ignorant to the scheme. He was led by his mother — who, as noted by the prosecution in her case, staged “a widely attended sham funeral” — to believe his father was dead for more than a year.
“Can you imagine, your own mother, and she brings an urn back?” attorney Matthew Mankey said, according to the newspaper. “Then dad shows up [alive]. What kind of people are these?”
Authorities removed the urn from the Lakewood Cemetery mausoleum and determined the ashes were not the father’s in June 2015. Also, early that year, Alkon Vorotinov admitted to federal authorities that his father was alive and had been using a different name, the Star Tribune reported.
After more than a half decade being Nikolai Patoka and living in various locations between Ukraine and Moldova, Igor Vorotinov remains at Sherburne County Jail prior to his court appearance next week.