Is it legal to fake your Death in 2024 ?

by | Feb 10, 2022 | Anonymous Living, Anonymous Travel, fake death | 2 comments

Is It Legal to Fake Your Death?

Technically, pseudocide (faking your death) and creating a new identity is lawful. However, executing such an act legally is fraught with complexities and potential legal pitfalls. In this blog, we will delve into the intricacies of pseudocide, exploring why people might choose to fake their deaths, the legal ramifications, and how one might pursue a safe and legal disappearance. We will also examine several real-life case studies to illustrate the risks and consequences.

The Concept of Pseudocide

Pseudocide, or the act of faking one’s death, is not inherently illegal. However, it often involves a web of deceptions and fraudulent activities against the law. As James Quiggle, the communications director for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, stated in an interview with Amicus International in 2012, “Pseudocide isn’t a crime in and of itself, but it comes with so many built-in deceptions that legally faking your drowning is very hard. You’ll be drowning in deception, to be honest.”

Why Fake Your Death?

People may choose to fake their death for various reasons, including:

  • Collecting Life Insurance Money: This is perhaps the most common reason. By feigning death, individuals attempt to claim life insurance payouts, which is a clear case of fraud.
  • Evading Law Enforcement: Those with outstanding arrest warrants might see pseudocide as a way to escape legal consequences.
  • Avoiding Debt: Individuals overwhelmed by financial obligations, such as school loans, vehicle loans, or mortgages, might consider pseudocide to start over without a debt burden.
  • Starting Anew: Some people want to leave behind their current lives, including troubled relationships or employment issues, and begin fresh with a new identity.

Legal Implications of Pseudocide

Although no specific federal or state laws prohibit pseudocide, the act often leads to committing other crimes. These include conspiracy, fraudulently collecting life insurance money, and tax evasion. For instance, filing a bogus police report, forging a death certificate, or defaulting on debt payments are illegal actions that one might undertake when faking a death.

Case Study: John Darwin

Consider the case of John Darwin, a British man who faked his death in a canoeing accident in 2002. Darwin disappeared, presumed dead, while his wife collected the life insurance money. However, in 2007, he reappeared, claiming to have suffered from amnesia. The truth eventually unravelled, and he and his wife were convicted of fraud. This case highlights how pseudocide inevitably involves illegal activities and the severe consequences of getting caught.

Case Study: Ken Kesey

Ken Kesey, the renowned author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, faked his death in 1966 to avoid imprisonment for marijuana possession. He left a truck and a suicide note near a cliff, making it appear as though he had jumped. Kesey then fled to Mexico, but his scheme was eventually uncovered, and he was arrested upon his return to the United States. This case illustrates how faking one’s death to evade legal consequences can lead to further legal troubles.

Challenges in Establishing a New Identity

Even if one successfully fakes their death, establishing a new identity in the United States or anywhere else is immensely challenging. Government institutions like the Social Security Administration, the DMV, banks, and mortgage lenders require valid evidence of identity. Assuming a fraudulent identity constitutes fraud, it is impossible to establish a new legal identity without committing a crime.

Case Study: Arthur Bennett

Arthur Bennett, a U.S. Marine, faked his death in a fire in 1994 to escape charges of child molestation. He staged the scene to look like he had died in an accidental blaze and then assumed a new identity. Bennett lived under his new identity for several years until he was discovered and arrested. This case demonstrates the difficulty and ultimate failure of maintaining a new identity after faking one’s death.

Legal Alternatives to Faking Your Death

Instead of resorting to pseudocide, individuals seeking a fresh start can pursue legal methods to disappear and create a new identity. Here are some steps to consider:

Changing Your Name Legally

One of the first steps in creating a new identity is to legally change your name. This process involves petitioning the court for a name change. Once approved, your new name can be printed on official documents such as your ID card and driver’s license.

Disappearing Legally

Suppose you wish to disappear legally without informing family and friends. In that case, you are under no legal obligation to say goodbye or disclose your destination unless you have a legal duty to someone (such as a financial contract or legal custody). If a missing person’s report is filed, you must report to the authorities to confirm your safety, but your location will not be disclosed to the complainant.

Creating a New Identity

To create a new identity, you must change all personal details, including your cell phone number, email address, workplace, and social media accounts. Maintaining a safe distance from your previous life is crucial, and you must be financially independent to avoid relying on your former connections.

Avoiding Fraudulent Activities

It is essential to avoid any fraudulent activities while establishing a new identity. For example, using a deceased person’s social security number or other identification documents is illegal. After a death certificate is filed, the associated SSN/SIN becomes invalid, and attempting to use it can lead to severe legal consequences.

Case Study: New Identity Creation

Consider the case of a woman who legally changed her name and moved to a different state to escape an abusive relationship. By following legal procedures and gradually establishing her new identity, she started a new life without resorting to illegal activities. Her case highlights the importance of legal methods in creating a new identity and ensuring personal safety.

The Role of Legal Name Changes in a Criminal Record

If you have a criminal record and need a job, you can petition the court to change your name legally. If the court approves, the new name is entered into the public record and shared with local and national law enforcement agencies. However, a name change does not erase your criminal record. Employers might still access your past under your previous name, depending on the laws and regulations governing professional groups.

Handling Credentials with a New Identity

When creating a new identity, you have two choices regarding your credentials: convert them to your new name or abandon them and start anew. If your credentials relate to education, you can request that your alma mater update your records with your new name. For professional groups, updating your name may be legally required to be made public unless you can demonstrate that it poses a risk to your safety.

Case Study: Professional Identity Change

A medical professional who faced discrimination due to their past legally changed their name and updated their credentials. By working with their alma mater and professional boards, they successfully transitioned to their new identity while maintaining their career. This case underscores the importance of legal avenues in preserving professional integrity and continuity.

The Legality of Faking Your Death

While technically legal, faking your death often necessitates breaking numerous laws, making it an impractical and risky solution. Instead, it is advisable to consult with experts who can guide you through legal methods of creating a new identity and disappearing safely. At Amicus International Consulting, we can assist you in navigating these complexities to live anonymously and securely.


Faking your death to start a new life is fraught with legal challenges and potential criminal consequences. Although pseudocide itself may not be illegal, the associated deceptions and fraudulent activities are. For those seeking a fresh start, pursuing legal avenues such as a formal name change and creating a new identity through legitimate means is a safer and more viable option. At Amicus International Consulting, we specialize in helping individuals navigate these complex processes to ensure a secure and lawful transition to a new identity.

Additional Case Studies

Case Study: The Canoe Man

In another infamous case, John Stonehouse, a British politician, faked his death in 1974 by leaving his clothes on a beach in Miami, Florida, to make it appear he had drowned. He fled to Australia and assumed a new identity. However, Stonehouse was eventually discovered, extradited to the UK, and convicted of fraud, theft, and forgery. His case illustrates the extensive international cooperation in tracking down individuals who attempt pseudocide.

Case Study: The Disappearing Act

Lenny B. Larsen, an accountant facing mounting debts, faked his death by staging a car crash and disappearing into a remote area. His plan fell apart when authorities noticed discrepancies in the evidence. Larsen was found living under a new identity a few years later and was arrested and charged with fraud and other crimes. His story highlights the difficulties and risks involved in attempting to maintain a new identity after pseudocide.

Case Study: The Legal Escape

One successful case involved a man who legally changed his name, relocated, and cut all ties with his past life due to threats from a criminal organization. Following legal procedures and working with law enforcement, he established a new identity and lived peacefully without needing pseudocide. This case demonstrates that it is possible to create a new identity safely and lawfully with careful planning and legal support.

In conclusion, while the notion of faking your death may seem like an escape route, the reality is fraught with legal dangers and potential criminal charges. For those in desperate situations, seeking legal advice and exploring legitimate methods to change identity and disappear safely is the best approach. At Amicus International Consulting, we provide expert guidance to help you navigate these complex processes, ensuring safety and peace of mind in your new life.

If you would like to work with a professional team that can help make your transition to a life of freedom, contact Amicus Int. for New Identity services today.