A Rotorua woman faked her own death, posing as another person to claim she was killed by a stray hockey ball, to collect $800,000 in life insurance.

Mary-Rose Ponce Calderon was sentenced in the Auckland District Court in April to three years and two months in prison for the elaborate fraud.

Sentencing notes released on August 22 showed she had earlier been found guilty on a raft of charges that included obtaining by deception, forgery, fraudulent use of a document, and money laundering.

The offending began in April 2015, when Calderon successfully took out an $800,000 life insurance policy online with the company Asteron Life, using her maiden name, Mary-Rose Kereopa.

In her application she listed the name Sharon Snow as the beneficiary in the event of her death, giving Snow the same address and cellphone number as herself.

The following month, Calderon contacted the insurer pretending to be Snow, and claimed Mary-Rose Kereopa had died as the result of an accidental hockey ball strike to the head, Judge Russell Collins’ sentencing notes said.

She then went about forging and altering the necessary documents to support the fabricated death.

In June 2015, Asteron Life deposited $800,000 into Calderon’s bank account.

But the offending did not stop there, Judge Collins said.

In April 2016, Calderon, again using her maiden name, successfully took out another life insurance policy online, this time with Pinnacle Life and for the sum of $1 million.

She listed her mother as the beneficiary in the event of her death.

The following month, she contacted the insurer pretending to be her mother and claiming Kereopa had died of a heart attack.

And in August 2016, Calderon took out a life insurance policy with AA Life for the sum of $950,000, using the name Naomi Christiansen-Knopp for the policy holder and Jocelyn Knopp for the beneficiary.

Just one week later, Calderon claimed Christiansen-Knopp had died of a heart attack, Judge Collins said.

She then sent off forged and altered documents to the insurer, Judge Collins said.

But her second and third life insurance claims were flagged as suspicious soon after the fraudulent documents had been sent.

When police confronted her with the allegations, Calderon told them she needed money and was “addicted to money”, Judge Collins said.

The funds Calderon received from the first claim were used to purchase a $180,000 Rotorua property, as well as for international travel, vehicle hire and living expenses.

At sentencing, Judge Collins said that the $800,000 paid out, $500,000 was “gone” and was unlikely to ever be recovered.

“Well over a 16-month period you made deliberate, sustained, premeditated, calculated attempts to defraud the victims of substantial amounts of money,” the judge told Calderon.

“You advised you were not in any financial predicament, and the motivation purely came from the incentive to have more money without any consequences, displaying a sense of entitlement.

“I am just simply not persuaded that you are remorseful for what you have done. I have no doubt that you are overwhelmingly remorseful for the situation in which you find yourself.”


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