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Three of gang involved in insurance fraud held in Gurugram

The police said that the three accused—identified as Padam Kharab and Naresh Kumar, both natives of Hisar, and Joni Saroha of Sonepat—were the ones who allegedly carried the dead bodies of the cancer patients from their homes after death and allegedly influenced doctors, insurance agents and enquiry officers.

gurgaon Updated: Jul 01, 2019 07:49 IST
Leena Dhankhar
Leena Dhankhar
Hindustan Times, Gurugram
The Special Task Force (STF) of the Haryana Police arrested three more gang members of the Pawan Boria gang. (HT Photo)
The Special Task Force (STF) of the Haryana Police arrested three more gang members of the Pawan Boria gang. (HT Photo)

The Special Task Force (STF) of the Haryana Police arrested three more gang members of the Pawan Boria gang, which fraudulently claimed insurance money from 25 companies after misrepresenting cancer deaths in the state as accidental deaths. The accused had raised multiple insurance claims and around 100 were under process. The mastermind of the gang and his accomplice were earlier arrested on April 20.

The police said that the three accused—identified as Padam Kharab and Naresh Kumar, both natives of Hisar, and Joni Saroha of Sonepat—were the ones who allegedly carried the dead bodies of the cancer patients from their homes after death and allegedly influenced doctors, insurance agents and enquiry officers.

They were arrested from Sonepat on Saturday and, a day later, produced before the local court, which remanded them to three days in police custody.

Deputy superintendent of police (special task force) Shamsher Singh said they hope to recover passbooks and records of the cancer patients from them. “These accused were named by the prime accused and the family members arrested earlier in April. Mastermind Pawan Boria paid them on a per-case basis. Investigation has revealed that the trio was involved in nearly 100 cases wherein they took the bodies of cancer patients to the accident spot to pass them off as genuine deaths due to accidents, and to hospitals where autopsies were conducted,” Singh said.

The DSP said that between 2017 and 2018 many insurance firms in Haryana had begun to smell a rat, as had insurance firms, which were noticing that cases of road accidents killing their clients were being reported to the same police stations in Sonepat, Jhajjar, Hisar and Panipat.

In 2017, a private investigator (PI) in Haryana received “19 or 20” cases from “various insurance companies”. He tried to reach out to the families, neighbours, doctors and police officers in each of these cases. No one was willing to talk, but he picked up whatever information he could. A year later, he reported to the insurance companies saying he had “concrete doubt” that these deaths weren’t accidents.

After a year of internal investigations, on April 5, 2019, Bharati AXA insurance company filed a complaint with the Director General of Police in Panchkula, alleging that a gang of some Sonepat-based men had defrauded the company of crores of rupees. Prompt action was taken by the DGP and the case was handed over to the STF.

The police said that several other insurance companies also followed with similar complaints. On April 20, after two weeks of investigation, the STF arrested the mastermind—Pawan Bhoria—and two of his close aides from Sonepat.

Bhoria initiated the scam in 2015 by contacting the computer operator of the cancer ward of state’s largest public hospital in Rohtak and “buying from him” the details of patients in the last stage of throat cancer. “The gang paid between ₹10,000 and ₹15,000 per file to the operator at PGIMS, Rohtak,” Inspector general of police (STF) KK Rao said.

Rao said, “The gang members would allegedly identify terminally ill cancer patients from rural and low-income backgrounds, get them to insure themselves with multiple companies by hiding their medical condition, wait for them to die and then put their bodies through ‘accidents’. The gang kept the bulk of the insured sum, between ₹8 lakh and ₹20 lakh in each case, and distributed the rest among its partners, police officers, family members, record keepers, insurance agents, doctors and public prosecutors.”

The police said the deceased and their family would allow the gang members to keep the bank cheque book, passbook, and ATM cards as part of the deal and also permitted Bhoria and his gang to take the body and ‘kill’ it in an accident as they were paid advance for the same. The most commonly enacted accident was the hit-and-run. When the patient would die of cancer, gang members would take the body to a spot and crush it with a vehicle to pass it off as an accident, said police.

“More than 100 people are accused of being complicit in the scam,” Rao said.

The gang members, including a doctor of a civil hospital, are facing charges under IPC sections 201 (destruction of evidence), 205 (false personation), 34 (common intention), 420 (fraud), 464 (making a false document), 465 (forgery), 468 (forgery for cheating), and 471 (using forged document) at the Civil Lines police station in Sonepat.