SINGAPORE: Over the course of nearly eight months, a woman deceived 12 insurance companies into giving her S$30,900 in payments by making false claims for baggage delay, sometimes using the names of her husband and daughter as scams.
Wendy Tan Vic Sim, 46, was sentenced to 14 months in prison on Wednesday (November 17). She pleaded guilty to five counts of fraud, subject to another 15 counts.
The court heard that Tan was not in financial need at the time of the crimes.
Filed baggage delay claims between April 2018 and December 2018 and received payments from 12 insurers: MSIG Insurance, United Overseas Insurance, AXA Insurance, FWD Singapore, AIG Asia Pacific Insurance, Great Eastern General Insurance, Aviva, Direct Asia Insurance, ERGO Insurance, Co-op NTUC Income Insurance, Chubb Insurance and Sompo Insurance.
She was buying travel insurance either in her name, her husband’s name, or her daughter’s name on the insurance certificate.
Then, she was using her daughter’s computer to manufacture a baggage delay confirmation message without her daughter or husband’s knowledge.
She did this using a real delay confirmation letter previously issued on a real baggage delay form that Cathay Pacific issued to her during a trip to Korea in November 2017, along with an itinerary from the same flight.
She converted both documents from PDF to Microsoft Word so she could edit them, and used them as the basis for her fake claims.
Tan’s accounts may differ from the allegations depending on whether she, her husband, or her daughter actually went on trips. She also modified the letterheads to put logos of different airlines on her stunt.
Tan will complete travel claim forms and submit a fake delay confirmation letter with accompanying travel itinerary as supporting documents for insurance companies.
At times, the claims were for trips that she, her husband, or her daughter had not taken. On other occasions, they have traveled abroad but have not encountered any baggage delays.
Little did Tan’s husband and daughter know that such fake claims were being made in their names and under their email accounts. In cases where money was deposited into the bank account of Tan’s husband, he was not aware of this and did not withdraw the money.
ALERT Insurance its employees discover a scam
The scam was detected by a representative from Sompo Insurance. Tan had impersonated her husband and filed a claim in his name to the company.
I attached a baggage delay letter purportedly from Vietnam Airlines on the claim form, which aroused the representative’s suspicions as he knows that airlines do not usually issue such letters.
He checked Sompo Insurance’s internal records and discovered that similar insurance claims had been made in Tan’s name and her husband’s name.
Next, the representative checked with insurance companies and other airlines to see if there were similar claims. He realizes that at least 12 travel insurance claims have been filed in Tan and her husband’s name since 2017.
The airlines confirmed that they did not send baggage delay letters, and the representative filed a police report. Other insurers soon followed similar police reports.
Tan later made full compensation to all 12 victim companies, paying them between S$1,000 and S$3,600.
The plaintiff demanded imprisonment between 14 and 17 months, noting that her crimes involve premeditation and complexity, “with carefully coordinated efforts and steps to avoid detection.”
Tan used a real baggage delay confirmation letter and itinerary as a template for her fraud, and bought insurance policies in the name of her husband and daughter to avoid raising suspicion.
The defense demanded leniency, saying Tan is the family’s sole breadwinner and takes care of her husband, who was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2018.
The lawyer said she also donated a kidney to her husband.
Noting that the kidney operation was performed this year, the attorney general said it was not clear how she would be pardoned for her actions given that she committed her crimes in 2018.
For each cheating charge, Tan could have been imprisoned for up to three years and a fine.
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