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Lankan woman jailed for 16 months

22 September 2011 05:30 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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A Sri Lankan woman who scammed an insurance company of $76, 297 was today jailed for 16 months. Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner called the operation a “callous and sophisticated scheme”.

Chandima Arachchige, 36, made false insurance claims to BF&M by claiming she had undergone surgery in Sri Lanka on four separate occasions between January 2010 and May 2011.

She collected $68,419 from BF&M but was stopped when she tried to scam the company a fourth time for $13,897. On all four occasions, Arachchige claimed she was in Sri Lanka having surgery when she was in fact in Bermuda.

Arachchige also submitted a claim for $7,884 on August 20 in the name of Susanthan Wijekoon, claiming he had undergone surgery in Sri Lanka in July when he was in Bermuda.

She collected the cheque and deposited it into her bank account. Arachchige attempted to leave the island that same day, two days after she was notified that BF&M had found irregularities in her claims.

She was arrested when she tried to fly to Sri Lanka on a one-way ticket.

The court heard she had emptied her bank accounts and when officers searched her home, all her belongings had been removed. The only thing left in the apartment was furniture.

Officers also discovered a number of memory sticks, containing medical invoices, cover letters and diagnosis cards from a hospital in Sri Lanka.

The documents matched those submitted to the insurance company. The name on all the documents was Mr Wijekoon, who was an employee at HWP along with Arachchige. Mr Wijekoon denied any knowledge of the medical documents and said he was on island during the alleged surgery dates.

During sentencing submissions, crown counsel Kirsty-Ann Kiellor said: “The initial file involved allegations of the defendant using her own insurance policy as it were to commit this offence.

“However, this new charge to which she’s pleaded guilty, it’s somebody else’s name, somebody else’s policy that she was using to get funds for herself.

“That takes the offending to a new level.”

Saul Dismont, representing Arachchige, said she wanted to pay restitution but it was proving to be difficult to get the money back from Sri Lanka. But Mr Warner said: “Look, she steals the people’s money and intended to permanently keep it and sent it away.

“Sent it to a jurisdiction that’s difficult to retrieve it. That defeats the whole idea of willingness to repay.

“She hasn’t got the ability to repay.

“This was a callous and sophisticated scheme.”

Mr Warner jailed Arachchige for 16 months for each charge in which she collected money, and for another six months for attempting to collect funds.

The sentences are to run concurrently. (Source: Bermuda Sun)
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