A Surrey couple who tried to scam the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia after a 2006 vehicle accident has been ordered by a B.C. Supreme Court judge to pay ICBC more than $200,000.
“Had they succeeded in their deception, they would have saved a mere $801 plus whatever might have been gained through a potential personal injury claim,” wrote Justice Christopher Grauer.
A court document stated that Amarjeet Panag crashed into another vehicle after she failed to yield at a stop sign at the intersection of 72nd and 130th street in Surrey on May 2, 2006. It also stated she and her husband then lied about the details of the accident, allegedly to avoid a $300 deductible payment and an increase in premiums.
According to court proceedings, a family friend reported the incident to ICBC on behalf of Ms. Panag and included witness testimony from a man named Harinder Grewal, who claimed no connections to either party in the accident.
After an interview with the ICBC Special Investigation Unit, Mr. Grewal admitted that Ms. Panag’s husband, Bahadur Panag, was his friend and that he had asked Mr. Grewal to act as a witness to the accident, which he did not see.
The document also stated that ICBC found Ms. Panag 100 per cent at fault and launched a fraud case against the couple.
“We estimate that fraud costs each of our customers in the range of $100-150 per year and we are not prepared to sit back and simply pass on these costs to them – it is theft from our customers,” said ICBC senior media relations adviser Adam Grossman in a written statement.
Judge Grauer found both defendants guilty and ordered that they pay ICBC$188,000 plus an extra $10,000 each for punitive damages.
He wrote, “Mr. and Mrs. Panag participated in a conspiracy to deceive ICBC about both how the accident happened and the status of Mr. Grewal as a witness to the accident.”
“Each year, we look into approximately 3,000 cases of accident and identity fraud and other allegations of criminal activity,” said Mr. Grossman.
“This judgment sends an extremely strong message,” said Mr. Grossman.
HEATHER ROY VANCOUVER — The Canadian Press