A woman in Singapore has been given jail time after being found guilty of filing false insurance claims for lost and delayed luggage. 46-year-old Wendy Tan Phaik Sim used the name of her husband and daughter to file the fraudulent claims defrauding 12 insurance companies out of $30,900.
The scam took place between April 25 and December 2, 2018, with Wendy using her name, her husband’s name, and their daughter’s name for the insured person’s details. She would then use her daughters’ computer to write a fabricated confirmation letter of the baggage delay.
She used computer software to fabricate letters
She used a genuine letter from Cathay Pacific that they sent to her after her baggage was delayed during a trip to South Korea in 2017. Using computer software, she converted the PDF document to Microsoft Word and then amended the text to fit in with her fake flight.
She even added airline letterheads, logos, and checked-in baggage numbers for flights that none of the family ever took. When Wendy or her family traveled abroad, she would file a claim for delayed or lost luggage even when nothing was delayed or went missing. She even created fake email accounts for her husband and daughter to correspond with the insurance companies.
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An insurance company employee uncovered the scam
The scam was up in December of 2018 when an employee of the Sompo Insurance Company thought it was strange that an airline would write a letter about delayed baggage. Now suspicious, the employee looked at previous claims to see if the same person had filed others. After finding several claims, they then contacted other insurance companies and the airlines and found that Wendy and her family had filed 12 travel insurance claims since 2017. Of the fake claims filed, Wendy received payments from the following insurance companies:
- MSIG Insurance
- United Overseas Insurance,
- AXA Insurance
- FWD Singapore
- AIG Asia-Pacific Insurance
- Great Eastern General Insurance
- Direct Asia Insurance
- ERGO Insurance
- NTUC Income Insurance Co-operative
- Chubb Insurance
- Sompo Insurance.
When the airlines confirmed that they never issued letters for delayed baggage, the insurance companies lodged a complaint with the police.
The husband and daughter had no idea about what was going on
Before going to court, Wendy had made full restitution to all 12 insurance companies that she had defrauded. When appearing before the court Deputy Public Prosecutor Phoebe Tan sought 14 to 17 months jail time, citing how Wendy had displayed a high degree of premeditation in her offending.
When appealing to the court, Wendy’s lawyer Cheryl Sim, said that the past few years had been particularly difficult for Wendy after her husband had been diagnosed with kidney failure and that the medications he needed were expensive. Eventually, Wendy’s husband needed a liver transplant, for which Wendy was the doner. When responding to the Liver transplant, the prosecutor pointed out that it had taken place this year and not in 2018 when Wendy was scamming insurance companies.
After having pled guilty to five out of the 20 counts against her, the court sentenced Wendy to one year and two months in jail. No charges were brought against the husband or daughter as they had no idea of what Wendy was doing.
What do you think about the sentence? Is it too harsh, given that Wendy pled guilty and returned all the money? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments.