Faking your own death

Last night, I caught up with a friend of mine who’s back in Prague after an interlude of living in China. One of the things he’s been doing since he got back is bicycling to Hungary to visit a friend in jail. What’s the friend in jail for? I naturally asked. Faking his own death, I learned. Oh.

Apparently, the friend – one Zoltan Rex, no less – ran up a lot of debt and faked a surfing accident with a few conspirators, including his wife. But, he did a really clumsy job of it, made it really obvious by taking out multiple life insurance claims, etc. My friend originally met him when he was ‘dead’, living under an assumed identity in the south of the Czech Repubic, and never knew there was a prior identity until he was arrested out of the blue. Details of his story are here. What this article doesn’t mention is that he’s now wasting away in a Hungarian prison and has no idea when he’ll be brought to trial.

The jail visit apparently consisted of my friend biking 500 kilometers to Budapest, then standing outside the prison window with binoculars and yelling conversational rejoinders to the jailed guy, who isn’t allowed to yell out the window himself and was therefore reduced to making enthusiastic hand gestures in reply. It seems that the jailed guy had been a big Michael Jackson fan, so my friend attempted to communicate his death by moonwalking and making the cutting finger-across-the-neck gesture at the same time. Which I thought was pretty resourceful.

Edit: Incidentally, there’s a good post up at Moonraking on the very same topic of staged disappearances.

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