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  • Man charged in life insurance scheme

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    Man charged in life insurance scheme

    A Delray Beach man accused of pocketing more than $3-million by claiming a dead man was his brother faces four fraud charges.

    ©Associated Press
    October 7, 2002

    FORT LAUDERDALE -- A Delray Beach man is accused of conning his way into more than $3-million in life insurance money by claiming that an unidentified man found dead in New York was his brother.

    A West Palm Beach-based grand jury has indicted Michael Barbosa on four fraud charges. The indictment alleges that Barbosa, 25, intentionally misidentified the dead man and had posed as his own brother, Francisco Barbosa, two years earlier to take out four large life insurance policies on him.

    The dead man was found May 18, 2000, in the Hudson River near a ferry terminal. The man appeared to have drowned, according to court records.

    Barbosa called New York City police June 18, 2000, and reported his brother missing, even giving police descriptions of tattoos he supposedly had, court records show.

    Two days later, Barbosa went to New York and identified the body as his brother's.

    Within months, Barbosa used the $3.22-million he received in life insurance proceeds to buy a $1.3-million condo in New York City's Trump World Tower, authorities said. He traveled to Europe and Brazil and bought a new Jaguar.

    But Barbosa's opulent lifestyle ended in January, when New York City police arrested him on charges of using a fake Fire Department parking pass, according to court documents.

    Federal authorities have since found out that Barbosa's brother is alive in Portugal.

    But investigators still don't know who the dead man found in the Hudson River was or how Barbosa was able to identify him as his brother.

    Authorities said Barbosa had convinced the New York City Chief Medical Examiner's Office that his brother had been despondent and had intentionally drowned himself.

    The death was classified as a suicide, and Barbosa avoided the scrutiny that insurance companies would have given the case if the manner of death had been left undetermined, the indictment states.

    Neither the lead agency investigating Barbosa -- the Secret Service -- nor the U.S. Attorney's Office would comment on Barbosa or any suspected links he had to the dead man.

    Michael Pizzi, Barbosa's attorney, said his client maintained his innocence on the fraud charges.

    "I have not heard through the course of the investigation anyone suggest, even remotely, that they are investigating any type of foul play or homicide," Pizzi said.

    Barbosa spent 15 months behind bars after pleading guilty to one fraud count for getting a credit card in his father's name and buying a $13,950 pair of diamond earrings.

    Secret Service agents searched Barbosa's Trump World Tower apartment in July, finding numerous credit cards and financial records in his name and in other names he had used, according to court records.

    He is now being held in the Palm Beach County Jail without bond.

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