NORFOLK, Va. (CN) – A Portsmouth, Virginia, woman pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiring with her husband to fake her own death as part of an elaborate bank fraud scheme.
As recounted in the statement of facts prosecutors filed in the Newport News, Virginia Federal Court, Alexandra Hatcher and her husband, Albert Hatcher Jr., faked her death to collect on two life insurance policies.
One of those policies, with Navy Mutual Aid Association, paid out $750,000; the other, with New York Life, another $100,000.
Prosecutors said the Hatchers traveled to Washington state in Aug. 2015, and Alexandra Hatcher legally changed her name to “Alexandra Vaughn Mitchell.”
The two then submitted false claims with the insurance companies, telling the insurers she died of a traumatic brain injury after a fall, the statement of facts said.
To further support her claim, the Hatchers created fake death certificates and published a death notice in the local Daily Press newspaper on Sept. 2, 2015.
Prosecutors said the plot began to unravel after Alexandra Hatcher’s family saw her death notice in the newspaper. They called the police and an investigation revealed the funeral home listed in the obit did not have a record of Hatcher’s death.
Hatcher’s family filed a missing person’s report with the Portsmouth Police Department, and in October 2015, the insurers denied the death benefits claims.
By then, however, the Hatchers had another scheme underway, prosecutors said.
According to court records, the couple fraudulently obtained at least 20 new or almost-new vehicles as they traveled cross-country, paying for them with worthless, counterfeit checks.
The Hatchers then retitled the vehicles and used them as collateral for loans for other vehicles. They then resold them to other dealerships for cash.
Albert Hatcher was arrested on Dec. 5, 2016, after police stopped him in one of the fraudulently obtained vehicles. He was released on a summons, but was arrested again just two days later in a newly rented U-Haul truck with two unopened boxes of prepaid cell phones.
After his release on bond, Hatcher Jr. again failed to appear for court dates in Chesapeake and Newport News, Virginia, the court documents says.
The crime spree came to an end on April 28, 2017, when the couple was arrested in Gulfport, Mississippi where they were again traveling in another fraudulently obtained vehicle.
The couple pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Robert Doumar to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, possessing a counterfeit security of an organization, and conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
Each now face a potential sentence of 30 years in federal prison when sentenced.
Albert Hatcher is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 22, 2018, and Alexandria Hatcher on Feb. 12, 2018.