THREE people who participated in a 2008 accident-insurance scam pointed to a former tow-truck driver as the mastermind behind the con.
They told a district court yesterday that it was Ong Ai Peng, 48, who was the one behind their false personal-injury insurance claims.
One of them, Cherina Wang Shumei, 20, Ong's daughter, a student then and now an air stewardess, said she was cowed by the stern methods he used to run the family.
The two others - Lee Jian Nan, 21, and Daniel Malvyn Ng Chin Loong, 22, both polytechnic students then and now full-time national servicemen - said they needed money for their education.
Ong, 47, had promised them $1,000 to $2,000 for their involvement. Instead, they ended up empty-handed and in the dock.
They pleaded guilty yesterday and District Judge John Ng ordered probation reports to be submitted late next month to gauge their suitability to be placed on probation.
Ong, who is believed to have masterminded the scheme, is in remand awaiting trial, while four accomplices have been sentenced to jail for between two and four months.
A fifth accomplice, Gabriel Song Jiada, 21, was placed on an 18-month probation last month for filing a false injury claim.
Those jailed include odd-job worker Tan Kok Seng, 37, who was driving the car that was rear-ended by a taxi on Feb 18, 2008 in Yishun Avenue 2.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Hon Yi said that Tan was jailed three months in October for making a fake insurance claim and a false police report.
Court documents revealed that, immediately after the Feb 18 accident, Tan called Ong, a former tow-truck driver before becoming a property agent, for help.
After summoning a tow truck, Ong returned home and instructed his wife and two daughters to claim they were passengers in Tan's car during the accident.
He also instructed his elder daughter's boyfriend, Lee Kian Hong, 22, to claim to be riding in the taxi involved in the accident, and to rope in his friends to be the other passengers.
The boyfriend recruited his younger brother, Lee Jian Nan, friends Ng and Song and, two days later, they all trooped down to the Yishun Healthway Clinic together with Tan and Ong's family members.
These phantom passengers complained of whiplash or pain in various parts of the body as a result of the accident.
Ong is then said to have got Ng to file a police report in which the young man lied that he and three friends were involved in the accident.
Law firm Kalai & Co was to pursue the insurance claims but India International Insurance smelled a rat.
It called the Commercial Affairs Department in January last year to report 20 suspicious injury claims, which arose from the Feb 18 accident and another unrelated crash.
At least 10 other suspects, all alleged phantom victims, have yet to be dealt with.
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