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John Darwin
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    (August 14, 1950- )
    Born in Hartlepool, England, United Kingdom
    Former teacher and prison official
    Disappeared while canoeing in the ocean (March 21, 2002)
    Turned up at a London police station claiming to have no memory of the past five years (December 1, 2007)
    Convicted of insurance fraud (July 23, 2008)
    Sentenced to six years and three months in prison
    Released on probation (January, 2011)
    Portrayed by Bernard Hill in the BBC4 programme ‘Canoe Man.’ (2010)
    He ran into financial trouble after he bought two rental properties and failed to find tenants for them.
    He decided to fake his death and use the money from his life insurance policy to pay off the mortgages on the rental properties.
    Shortly after his disappearance, he moved into a bedsit adjacent to his wife’s house and began secretly seeing her.
    He and his wife Anne decided to move abroad in order to live more openly, so he got a passport as ‘John Jones,’ using the identity of an infant who had died in 1950.
    He and Anne looked into buying a home in Panama and were photographed by a property agent (July 2016).
    After Panama tightened its visa laws, he concluded he would be unable to pass the new level of scrutiny and decided to return to England and claim to be a victim of amnesia.
    The amnesia alibi was quickly discredited when the photo of him and Anne in Panama surfaced on the internet.
    At no point during his five years of pretending to be dead did he get in touch with his two sons and tell them he was still alive.
    After his release from jail, he divorced Anne, moved to the Philippines and married a woman 23 years his junior.
    He faked his death before he started missing mortgage payments, so his disappearance attracted less scrutiny than it would have if he had waited until after the financial excrement hit the fan.
    He got the idea for using a deceased infant’s identity to obtain a passport from the Frederick Forsyth novel ‘Day of the Jackal.’
    He and Anne paid over £500,000 in reimbursement and fines by selling off pretty much all their assets.
    His disappearance and return inspired storylines in the soap operas Coronation Street and EastEnders.

Credit: C. Fishel

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