About 700 believed to be victims in motor insurance scam in Hong Kong

Police arrested four people in connection with the case where a syndicate is suspected to have forged policy documents

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 October, 2016, 11:15pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 October, 2016, 11:31pm

More than 700 people are believed to have fallen prey to motor insurance scams, police said after four members of a syndicate suspected to have forged policy documents were arrested.

The Commercial Crime Bureau of the force first received a complaint from a victim over an insurance intermediary, named Lap Shing Insurance Broker, in August last year, after the policy document issued by the broker was found to be bogus.

Superintendent So Man-kuen from the bureau said the syndicate allegedly set up the insurance intermediary and claimed it could help victims purchase motor insurance policies from leading insurance companies at lower premiums.

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The force confirmed 26 victims aged 21 to 50, involving a total of HK$120,000. Officers also found around 1,000 motor insurance policy documents, issued by the broker in question, were submitted by around 700 car owners to the Transport Department.

“A motor insurance policy would cost more than HK$1,000, depending on the policy type. But this intermediary asked for as low as hundreds of dollars,” So said yesterday. “They made advertisements online and on social media. Victims would also recommend the company to their friends because of the low payments.”

So added that victims realised the documents were forged only when they applied for a vehicle licence from the Transport Department, and when the insurance firms concerned could not confirm the document records.

Lap Shing Insurance Broker claimed it could buy policies from China Ping An Insurance (Hong Kong), DirectAsia Insurance (Hong Kong), QBE Hong Kong and Shanghai Insurance, Tokio Marine and Fire Insurance (Hong Kong) and Zurich Insurance.

Officers took action on it last month, arresting two men and two women, aged between 17 and 24, for conspiracy to defraud and money laundering.

The force said that Lap Shing Insurance Broker was not a registered company, and that its website had stopped running. “We will contact the 700 car owners to see if their documents were counterfeits as well,” So said.

Assistant commissioner of Insurance Lam Ka-tai said the forged documents appeared genuine and the differences could not be spotted easily. He appealed to the public to get policies directly from insurance companies or trustworthy intermediaries.

In the first seven months of this year, the police received 21 reports related to motor insurance scams, compared with 13 reports for the whole of last year.