"We know he arrived at the ferry," Special Agent Douglas Left tells CNBC's American Greed: The Fugitives. But the FBI isn't convinced that Price jumped off the ferry. "It's pretty inconceivable," says Left, who points to camera footage of Price with a "sizable" backpack and a sleeping bag. Who packs all that baggage to jump off a ferry?
Left also shows American Greed: The Fugitives how between the airport and the ferry, Lee changes his burgundy cap for a white cap. "People that are, you know, that commit suicide, it's probably unlikely that you'll find too many of them that decided they needed to change the color hat they were wearing just before that terrible moment…"
None of the security cameras caught a glimpse of a jumper; none of the passengers did, either. "With the way that the decks are canted, they're canted inward," Captain Matt Burhyte told American Greed. "So if you were to go off, somebody would see you bouncing off the side of the vessel. So it would be extremely difficult."
The FBI is offering 20 thousand dollars for information leading to Price's arrest … if he's still alive. He's been missing for a little over a year, and Florida issued a death certificate. But some who play dead for big stakes don't get caught till several years later. "Canoe Man" John Darwin, a British kayaker whose wife claimed he disappeared at sea, wasn't caught for five years, according to his own official website. He and his wife profited from insurance and eventually served prison time for the fraud.
Susan Nash, a financial investigator, president of Search-Net Management and author of Skip Tracing, says she thinks faking death for profit is relatively common. "I'm involved in a case like that now," says Nash. After their father died, the children, who'd inherited a trust fund, couldn't get in touch with their Florida trustee. Then they heard that the trustee was dead. Something didn't add up. Nash was hired to investigate and found that trust properties were being sold … by the "dead" trustee. It turned out the Florida trustee had faked her own death and was allegedly bilking the beneficiaries.
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"I don't really see enough resources spent on finding and detecting this type of fraud," says Nash. "Insurance companies investigate vigorously, but if you imagine it's ongoing for six months, by the time … the insurance company is on to them, they skip."
However, Dennis Jay, Executive Director of Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, says insurance companies, which used to be ill-equipped to handle faked-deaths, have really improved their game. This kind of fraud, says Jay, "comes and goes in waves. People get ideas from others. We used to see people selling fake-death kits." The kits were advertised on underground internet sites much like the infamous "silk road," and included death certificates, video-taped funerals, even tombstones. "It was a package deal," says Jay.
According to Jay, foreign countries were especially popular faked-death destinations. But these days, it's not as easy as it used to be. "A lot of private investigation firms have opened up overseas – Pakistan, Haiti, Vietnam. The business is there … it's a good new market."