Man jailed six months for motor insurance fraud

SINGAPORE - A man who conspired with three others to cheat NTUC Insurance in a motor insurance scam was jailed for six months on Wednesday.

Godfrey Liew Kok Hon, 39, a former financial planner, admitted to one of three charges of conspiracy to cheat.

He conspired with Su Chia Ern, 44, Pan Weida Pepin, 31, and Tan Eng Chui, 43, to dupe NTUC into believing that an accident had taken place along Upper Thomson Road between his car and another in April 2009.

He induced the insurer to pay $1,400 to motor workshop Concept Services Enterprise, as payment for an own property damage claim.

Tan, a phantom driver, was jailed for three months earlier this year. The cases against the alleged masterminds are pending.

The syndicate was behind fraudulent claims stemming out of nine purported accidents involving 20 people.

Claims amounting to more than $360,000 were submitted between 2008 and 2009. Of these claims, insurers paid $155,600, incurring losses.

The court heard that Liew was in financial difficulties when he approached Su, the husband of his wife's sister, for money.

He agreed to Su's plan to make fraudulent insurance claims by playing the role of a phantom driver involved in an accident that never took place.

Liew provided his vehicle as one of the cars involved in the false accident. He left his car at Su's workshop, Concept, in Sin Ming Industrial Estate Sector A. The car was subsequently damaged to make it appear like it was involved in an accident.

He got his wife You Baolan, 27, involved in the scam as a passenger in the purported car accident so that she could claim for personal injury. Her case is pending.

Liew also obtained a medical report and certificate by lying to the doctor that he suffered stiffness in the wrist and lower back.

Seeking five to six months' jail for Liew, Deputy Public Prosecutor Joshua Lai said such syndicated offences were difficult to detect, well coordinated and carried out with sophistication.

He said between 2007 and 2011, the insurance industry had suffered $411 million in losses, which was contributed by inflated and fraudulent claims.

The executive director of General Insurance Association of Singapore (GIA) Derek Teo and its motor convenor Sam Tan said in a joint statement that as a conservative estimate, 20 per cent of the net incurred claims for each are inflated or fraudulent claims and this works out to around $140 million each year.

Motor insurance premiums rise as a result, and this translates to higher costs not just for motorists but also for public transport operators. These are then passed on to the consumers.

Liew could have been jailed for up to 10 years and/or fined.

elena@sph.com.sg