PA Couple Given 14 Years in Faked Death Insurance Fraud

June 20, 2001

Lee Likhit Kongsiri and his wife Phatcha, former Lehigh County residents, were each given 14 year prison terms for defrauding six different life insurers a total of $1.6 million by faking Lee’s death in Thailand in 1995, supposedly from a heart attack brought on by excessive alcohol and sex.

The sentence is believed to be the most severe ever imposed in Pennsylvania for an insurance fraud. The couple were also ordered to repay the money they had received to the insurance companies.

The couple, both in their 60’s, apparently conceived the scheme when Lee retired, and they planned to return to their native Thailand. They obtained a death certificate from the U.S. Embassy, and filed their claims. Two companies, Allstate and Prudential, rejected them, but five others paid. Prudential’s suspicions were eventually confirmed when a videotape surfaced in 1996, showing the supposedly dead Lee very much alive.

Charges were brought in 1999, and both pleaded guilty at the hearing on Monday. They indicated that they knew what they had done was wrong, and were ready to accept their punishment.

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