6 months' jail for fake insurance claim

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

Former financial planner Godfrey Liew Kok Hon, 39, facing three charges, admitted to scheming with Su Chia Ern, 44, Pan Weida Pepin, 31, and Tan Eng Chui, 43, to deceive NTUC into believing that he was the driver of a car involved in an accident with another car along Upper Thomson Road.

The "accident" never happened but the insurer paid $1,400 to Su's motor workshop, Concept Services Enterprise, for a first party property damage claim.

Tan has been dealt with while the case against the alleged masterminds is pending. The syndicate was behind fraudulent claims stemming out of nine purported accidents involving 20 people.

Claims of $363,521 were submitted between 2008 and 2009, and insurers were dishonestly induced to pay out $155,658.

The court heard that Liew was in financial difficulties when he approached Su for money. He agreed to Su's plan to make fraudulent insurance claims by playing the role of a phantom driver involved in a fake accident on April 22, 2009.

Liew not only gave his particulars as driver but also supplied his car for the accident.

Seeking a jail term of five to six months yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Joshua Lai said such syndicated offences were difficult to detect. He said that 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 Derek Teo and its motor convenor Sam Tan said in a joint victim impact statement that as a conservative estimate, 20 per cent of the claims for each year are inflated or fraudulent and this works out to around $140 million each year.

"In other words, insurers and ultimately motorists and other transport users end up absorbing the costs of the inflated or fraudulent claims," they said. The premium for motor insurance has become higher than it would be without such claims.

Two other similar charges involving $22,183 were taken into consideration.

Liew's lawyer, Mr Louis Joseph, said the father of two is highly educated and holds a master of business administration from South California University and a bachelor of arts in accounting and management from another university.

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



This article was first published on June 11, 2015.
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