SINGAPORE, Nov 11 — For at least two years, Hairina Mohamed Rafik doctored medical certificates to make fake injury or hospitalisation claims with her insurance company.
She succeeded in getting payments totalling more than S$41,400 (RM143,199) from AIA Singapore and would have obtained another S$14,800 had she not been caught.
YEsterday, the 37-year-old Singaporean was sentenced to six months’ jail, after pleading guilty to two counts of cheating and one of attempting to cheat.
Three other cheating charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.
The court heard that in mid-2019, Hairina visited Raffles Hospital for a burn injury to her hand and wrist, and was given medical certificates (MCs) to rest.
Around the same time, her husband was separately issued three MCs by the same hospital for injuries on his ankle.
Sometime in July or August that year, Hairina got her husband’s MC scanned at a shop. She then used a PDF software to amend her husband’s personal details and submitted the edited documents to AIA in September.
The company then issued her a cheque of almost S$18,500.
In December that year, Hairina received a one-day MC from the Singapore General Hospital.
Using a similar method, she extended the MC validity date to 20 days, and successfully duped AIA to pay out more than S$10,200 to her bank account.
In March 2021, Hairina suffered a hand injury from hot cooking oil.
She did not seek medical treatment, but she tried to submit false claims to the insurance company by doctoring an actual MC she received the month before from Sengkang General Hospital.
On this occasion, she forged four MCs and a memo supposedly issued by a doctor detailing her injury.
Hairina submitted a claim in May that year, but AIA did not make a payout because it had probed into and discovered the unusual nature of the claims.
An officer in AIA lodged a police report against her in August that year.
Hairina has since made full restitution to the insurance company.
Seeking a jail sentence of six to eight months, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Jason Chua told the court that a general deterrence is warranted as this was a case of medical fraud.
Such offences could adversely affect “a large segment of the public” by increasing insurers' cost, which would be passed on to policyholders through increased premiums.
Defence counsel Rachel Ong from Tembusu Law sought for her client a mandatory treatment order in light of her psychiatric condition — Hairina was diagnosed with major depressive disorder in June 2022 — and “prospect of rehabilitation”.
If this was not possible, the lawyer sought a jail term of no more than six months.
Ms Ong said that Hairina had committed her offences due to financial difficulties, “not out of greed”, because her father was stricken with cancer and her mother was ill.
Hairina was subjected to domestic violence and was the sole breadwinner for her seven-year-old child, the lawyer added.
In response, DPP Chua said the prosecution was of the view that there was no contributory link between Hairina’s offences and her mental condition, given the highly premeditated manner of her actions.
A report by the Institute of Mental Health showed that her diagnosis came three years after the start of her offences.
In delivering his decision, District Judge James Elisha Lee said that there was clear intent and planning in Hairina’s actions, and the amount cheated was “not insignificant”.
He also agreed with the prosecution that there were “downstream ramification” to be concerned about in such cases of medical insurance fraud, thus the need for deterrence.
For each count of cheating, Hairina could have been sentenced to jail for up to three years or fined, or both.
The offence of attempting to cheat carries a similar sentence. ― TODAY