Man helped stage crashes in $1.1m motor insurance scam

Rahmat admitted to 25 charges of abetment to cheat.
Rahmat admitted to 25 charges of abetment to cheat.

A former dispatch rider who helped to stage car accidents in a bid to make more than $1.1 million in fraudulent insurance claims yesterday admitted to 25 charges of abetment to cheat.

Rahmat Mohd, 37 - who was part of a syndicate of 29 people - also admitted to 88 similar counts which will be taken into consideration during sentencing next month.

The offences took place between May 2011 and October 2013. They involved 16 insurance companies and claims for 21 faked accidents.

A district court heard that sometime in 2011, Rahmat met car workshop boss Sollihin Anhar, 42.

Rahmat agreed to assist Sollihin in making false insurance claims, by collecting vehicles from their owners and driving them to deserted locations to stage traffic accidents.

He would position the vehicles in a pre-agreed sequence suggested by Sollihin, before causing one car to deliberately crash into the stationary vehicle in front of or behind it.

Acting on Sollihin's instructions, Rahmat also reminded the drivers to report the accidents in the Singapore Accident Statement.

Rahmat would earn about $200 for each vehicle he collected, and when he assisted the owners or drivers in making false motor insurance and personal injury insurance claims.

Between January 2012 and March 2014, 13 insurance companies lodged separate police reports regarding false insurance claims for traffic accidents which took place at different locations between May 2011 and October 2013.

In all, Rahmat conspired to make 44 false insurance claims for vehicle damage, and 70 fraudulent insurance claims for personal injuries. The false insurance claims tottalled $1,137,318.

Of the 114 fraudulent claims made, 20 were settled with final payouts of $215,678. The remaining 94 claims were either rejected or withdrawn.

Rahmat received a total sum of $1,800 from Sollihin for his role in the insurance scam.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Hon Yi urged the court to impose a jail term of at least six years, adding: "The accused is Sollihin's right hand man. His role included recruiting phantom drivers and passengers, staging traffic accidents and instructing the said drivers and passengers on the procedure to submit fraudulent insurance claims."

The General Insurance Association of Singapore, he said, estimates that inflated and false claims make up a fifth of all insurance claims, and amount to over $140 million a year.

The cost is ultimately borne by all motorists in the form of higher insurance premiums, the DPP added.

Fraudulent insurance claims are "easy to fake, yet hard to detect".

"A strong deterrent sentence has to be sent out to the general public, that motor vehicle insurance fraud involving false claims cannot be tolerated," DPP Hon said.

Rahmat's mitigation will be heard on Jan 29. He is expected to be sentenced on the same day. For each count of cheating, he could be jailed for up to 10 years, and fined.

Sollihin's case is before the courts.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 23, 2015, with the headline 'Man helped stage crashes in $1.1m motor insurance scam'. Subscribe