Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Trio in insurance scam may get probation

They say ex-tow truck driver got
them to make false injury claims.

 Ng, 22, lied in a police report that he and three friends were
involved in a road accident. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW


BY KHUSHWANT SINGH
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 him.
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 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, Gabriel Song Jiada, 21, was placed on 18
months’ 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 for 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, who was a 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 and 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.
After investigations into the Feb 18 case, charges
were filed against Ong and his accomplices.
Judge Ng said that while he saw why Wang and her
boyfriend’s younger brother Lee Jian Nan were under
Ong’s influence, he found it difficult to understand
Ng’s motives as the youth was not connected to Ong in
any way.
But Ng’s lawyer, Mr Lim Kia Tong, said that his client
was going through a very rough patch in 2008 as his
mother had lost her job and undergone surgery for
breast cancer. He also had to take out a $5,000 bank
loan to pay for his three-year supply chain management
course in Republic Polytechnic, for which he is still repaying
in instalments.
For conspiring to cheat the insurance firm, each
could be jailed up to 21/2 years and fined.
For making a false police report, Ng could be jailed
up to six months and fined up to $1,000.
khush@sph.com.sg

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