A City of London Police probe was sparked by the pension and insurance firm's information about a supposed car crash fatality.
Arafa Nassib, 47, from Walsall has been sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment and her son, Adil Kasim, 18, was given 12 month community order for conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.
Investigators found they conspired to fake the mother's death in order to claim £140,000 worth of life insurance.
They claimed that Nassib had died in a car crash in Zanzibar in April 2016.
The case was referred to the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department by Scottish Widows in November 2016, after it became suspicious of the documentation Kasim - the beneficiary - had provided when he tried to make a claim against his mother’s (Nassib) life insurance policy in May 2016.
He sent a letter with a death certificate from Zanzibar.
It was claimed that Nassib attended the Mnazi Mmoja Hospital where it was documented she had been pronounced dead. However it was later established that she had not been at the hospital, nor had she been treated by the doctor who Kasim had named in a life insurance questionnaire.
It was later established that the death certificate and road traffic accident reports that they had provided in order to make the claim were falsified.
Furthermore, the Zanzibar death registry office confirmed that Nassib was not buried at the location claimed.
The investigation found that Nassib flew back to Birmingham from Zanzibar on 6 May 2016. On this day, she used her mobile to make a number of calls to Kasim.
Kasim was arrested on 22 December 2016. On his arrest, many items were seized from him including a mobile phone, a passport and flight tickets. Whilst being interviewed, Kasim admitted that he and his mother had planned the fraud and that his mother was now living in Canada to avoid detection. He described their plan for Nassib to go to Zanzibar to visit family and when she was out there, to obtain the necessary documents to falsify her death.
Officers made contact with Nassib whilst she was in Canada and she returned to the UK on 8 February 2017 where she was arrested by detectives from the City of London Police.
During her police interview Nassib said that she was in debt, which was getting hard to manage and causing her stress. Nassib admitted knowing her death had been fraudulently reported to the government in Zanzibar when she was there in April 2016.
No money was paid out in relation to the claim.
Fighting fraud with insurers
Detective Constable Daryl Fryatt, who led the case, said: "Nassib and Kasim exploited the insurance industry for their own monetary gain, going to great lengths to try and avoid detection. Nassib moved her entire life abroad simply to try and avoid the consequences of faking her own death.
“Today’s case shows that those who commit insurance fraud will be caught and put before the courts.
"Our extensive work with the insurers in this case has led us to a successful conviction and these unremorseful fraudsters have finally been brought to justice.”
A Scottish Widows statement read: "We have robust fraud prevention measures which enabled us to identify this fraud quickly and refer it to the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department."