A Fenway man faces federal charges that he took out life-insurance policies on his already dead brother, then tried to cash in on them.
Kellerman Jason Zheng, 33, was arrested yesterday on one count each of mail and wire fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years, the US Attorney's office reports:
Between December 2016 and March 2018, Zheng allegedly took out at least 24 life insurance policies in his brother’s name. These policies, which carried total coverage limits in excess of $11.5 million, listed Zheng and his parents as the beneficiaries. The charging documents, however, allege that Zheng’s brother died months prior during a visit to China in April 2015. As part of the scheme, Zheng also took steps to make it appear as if his brother were still alive, such as opening and using bank accounts in his brother’s name and renewing his brother’s Massachusetts driver’s license.
Later, Zheng allegedly obtained a false Chinese death certificate, which indicated his brother died in August 2018, and submitted over $5 million in life insurance claims. Zheng admitted during meetings with an undercover agent, who was posing as a claims manager willing to assist in the fraud scheme, that his brother died prior to the inception of the insurance policies.
According to an affidavit by a postal inspector who worked on the case, the feds were aided by detectives hired by at one of the insurance companies, who traveled to China to find out when Zheng's brother had really died, after Zheng filed a claim on a $750,000 policy he had taken out in his brother's name. The policy gave an address for the brother that turned out to be for a UPS store in Altamonte Springs, FL, the inspector wrote.
In his request for payment, Zheng wrote that his brother had accidentally drowned on Aug. 4, 2018 in China and attached what turned out to be a death certificate signed by a doctor in Dabeitou Village, Guangdong, based solely on the word of one of Zheng's relatives - the doctor never actually saw the body, and local police told detectives "they had no record of any death or drowning on August
The detectives eventually figured out that Zheng's brother "died of a sudden heart attack two or three years prior during Tomb Sweeping Day," an annual festival for remembering ancestors and relatives, in part by cleaning their tombs.
[Detectives] interviewed a staff member at the Qingyuan Funeral Home in Qingyuan City, Guangdong Province, China. A staff member stated that there was a record of an individual by the name of Ming Fei Zheng, 27 years of age, who was cremated on April 4, 2015. Investigators later returned to the funeral home and spoke to the funeral home director, who confirmed Ming Fei died on April 4, 2015.