Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Grave Error: A Man Attempting to Fake His Own Death Was Caught Because of a Typo

DeathcertificateAs it turns out, faking your own death isn't an easy feat. For this reason, and many others, faking your own death is never recommended, but if you are gonna do it, you should do it right. This means you should be thorough and proofread your fraudulent death certificate. 

Robert Berger, a 25-year-old from Long Island learned this lesson the hard way. Berger tried to convince authorities that he was dead by forging death documents. "According to CNN, Berger was charged with fourth-degree possession of stolen property in December 2018 as well as third-degree attempted grand larceny in June 2019. Entering a guilty plea for both, he was expected to be sentenced on October 22, 2019." 

Berger decided that he would fake his death, instead of showing up to court. Berger's attorney, Meir Moza, told them that Berger had died. Moza then gave the court Berger's alleged death certificate, which listed Berger's cause of death suicide by means of suffocation. 

Due to several misspellings of the word registry (the document spelled it as regsitry) and different font types throughout the document, officials were suspicious. 

After doing some research, Prosecutors found that the document was forged. Berger's attorney, Moza, claimed that he had nothing to do with the forgery and was not charged. Berger now faces 4 years in prison for offering a false instrument. 

Hopefully Berger has learned that, one way or another, if you do the crime you have to do the time—fake dead or alive. 

See Jake Rossen, Grave Error: A Man Attempting to Fake His Own Death Was Caught Because of a Typo, July 23, 2020. 

Special thanks to Deborah Matthews (Virginia Estate Planning Attorney) for bringing this article to my attention.


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