Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Insurance scam mastermind jailed

Bookmark and Share  By Shaffiq Alkhatib | Posted: 08 February 2011 1947 hrs
 Phang Choon Meng, 38, was also disqualified from driving for three   
                   years as he had driven rashly to stage an accident.
                            -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE --

SINGAPORE : The mastermind of several insurance scams was sentenced to 27 months' jail on Tuesday.

He and his accomplice had staged a traffic accident by deliberately jamming on the brakes of the car they were in, in front of a lorry driven by an innocent foreign worker.

Other methods involved phantom passengers and bogus personal injury accident claims.

Phang Choon Meng, 38, a former accident claims advisor, committed the offences between August 2008 and March 2009.

He and his accomplices cheated companies, including NTUC Income and AXA Insurance, of nearly S$96,000.

He pleaded guilty to eight charges in December last year, while nine remaining charges were taken into consideration.

The scam was first uncovered after an NTUC Income executive lodged a police report on April 7, 2009, after suspecting that five motor injury claims he had received were fake.

The claim forms stated that five people were in a car that was hit by a lorry along Ayer Rajah Expressway on December 17, 2008.

After interviewing the lorry diver, he discovered that only two people were in the car when the accident took place and that the whole accident had been staged.

Several months before the incident, Phang was approached by Lim Boon Wee, 31, who told him that his car had a big dent on the front bumper and he did not have enough money to replace it.

Phang and one of his accomplices, Raymond Ng Yang Kheng, 30, then suggested they stage the accident so that Lim could make a claim against his insurer for the dented bumper.

Lim agreed to be part of the ruse and handed his car keys over to the pair.

Phang took the car for a spin along various expressways, with Ng sitting beside him - looking out for vehicles driven by foreign workers as they felt that such individuals were less familiar with local regulations.

When they saw the lorry, Phang deliberately jammed on his brakes, causing the bigger vehicle to slam into the rear of the car.

Besides this, Phang played a role in 12 other cases involving bogus claims.

Seven of his accomplices, including Lim and Ng, have already been jailed between two and six months for their part in the scams.

For cheating, Phang could have been jailed up to 10 years and fined for each charge.

Addressing Phang's case, NTUC Income said in a statement that it was encouraged by the growing incidence of motor insurance fraud cases being brought before the courts.

It has also embarked on legal action in cases in which it believed the insured's rights could be better protected.

In the past 15 months, NTUC Income has won 25 court cases involving motor third party claims and would be more open to using the courts to safeguard the rights of its policy holders.

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