On paper, at least, Elizabeth Greenwood died while visiting the Philippines in 2013. Multiple witnesses reported seeing her rental car collide at high speed with another vehicle. Both drivers were seriously injured; doctors at a local hospital pronounced Greenwood dead on arrival.
The documents have all the right official seals, watermarks and signatures, but they're fake. There was no accident.
Obtaining her own death certificate was the culmination of years of research for Greenwood, who – in addition to being alive and well – is the author of the new book "Playing Dead: A Journey Though the World of Death Fraud." She doesn't recommend you try faking your own death.
Greenwood got her falsifying documents for free in the course of researching and writing her book. She says the mechanics of faking your own death range from just a few hundred dollars for a faux death certificate all the way up to $30,000 to hire a professional fixer to help erase your physical and digital trails. (That's in addition to the cash you'd need to launch your new life.)
CNBC talked to Greenwood about why money is a big motivation for faking your own death, as well as why it often trips up would-be fakers.