Life insurance scam
Sanjay Kumar has been jailed for faking his own death to claim a £1.1 life insurance payout Getty

Failed businessman Sanjay Kumar faked his own death from "brain fever", and claimed he had been cremated in India in a desperate bid to collect £1.1m from life insurers to clear huge debts.

Kumar, now serving two-and-a-half years for the attempted swindle, deployed his wife in a ruse to convince insurers he had been struck down with a fatal illness while in India in 2011.

Anju Kumar, who pleaded guilty to two counts of the same offence and was handed a suspended 10-month jail sentence, lied to five insurers telling them her husband had died of "brain fever" and was cremated in India in November 2011.

It later transpired Kumar was in fact in rude health during the trip to India, despite sending an email to his wife saying he had been taken to hospital with a serious illness.

Southwark Crown Court heard he had in fact obtained a fake death certificate and a receipt confirming he had been cremated.

Kumar later flew back to the UK under a fake name in August 2012 thinking he was in line for a total of £1,155,789 in insurance payouts.

The scam started to unravel when enquiries by Aviva and Scottish Provident found no record of Sanjay Kumar being treated for a life threatening illness or being admitted to hospital and discovered a fake death certificate had been submitted.

Scottish Provident referred the inquiry to the City of London Police's Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department, which launched an investigation.

City of London Police's Insurance Fraud Department later found that Kumar was in significant financial debt and under pressure from creditors.

Of the massive payout just £10,615 had been honoured to the Kumars, who are now seperated, at the time of their arrest, reported the Watford Observer.

Sentencing, Judge David Higgins deplored the couple's actions: "If you stoop to crime in this way, then you must accept the consequences, and the courts have long made clear they are likely to be severe.

"Your behaviour was quite routinely deplorable and deeply anti-social."