Indian origin cab driver fakes death for insurance claim

Published on Sep 06, 2004 07:29 PM IST

A Yorkshire-based taxi driver of Indian origin faked his own death while in India to claim money from insurance companies in Britain.

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HT Image
PTI | ByIndo-Asian News Service, London

A Yorkshire-based taxi driver of Indian origin faked his own death while in India to claim money from insurance companies in Britain.

Pritpal Kaila, 46, almost succeeded in defrauding three insurance companies before one of them got suspicious and launched an investigation.

Kaila acquired a forged death certificate during a trip to India, saying he had succumbed to heart problems and made arrangements for his wife in Scunthorpe to be told he was being cremated.

She received payment from Scottish Amicable Life and Scottish Widows, but the third insurance company, Century Life, which was due to pay the largest amount of 287,562 pounds smelt a rat and put an investigator on the case.

Inquiries in Jalandhar, Kaila's hometown, revealed the death certificate had

been forged and the case was passed to police.

Local officers enlisted the help of the American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) after discovering that Kaila had travelled to the US on his own passport. Later he was traced to California where he was found working at a corner store.

But as police made plans to extradite him, Kaila turned up unexpectedly at Scunthorpe police station.

Kaila, who last week pleaded guilty to each of the charges facing him at Grimsby Crown Court, will be sentenced on Oct 1.

Mike Allibone of Humberside Police said: "He told us he was fed up with life and just wanted out and wanted his wife to be financially stable."

"At the end of the day although the insurance claims were put in by his wife there is no evidence to suggest she knew that he was still alive."

"As far as his wife was concerned he was dead, while he just wanted to start his life all over."

Before Kaila travelled to Punjab in early 2001 he had been working in London as a private hire driver, visiting his family in Scunthorpe only occasionally.

Within a matter of weeks of arriving in India he had "died". An accomplice phoned his wife to tell her of the news. But she was unable to get there in time for his cremation.

Later inquiries among his friends and family suggested he was in America, and, with the assistance of the FBI, he was traced to San Jose and San Francisco in California.

Allibone added: "Basically he employed someone to obtain these forged documents. They were sent via mail to his wife back in Scunthorpe. There were also phone calls from this unknown person to say he had died as a result of a heart attack or heart problems."

"The amount of cash she received was minimal; they were more life insurance policies to cover the mortgage."

"She obviously wasn't particularly impressed with her husband's conduct and was clearly upset from thinking he was dead, then finding he was alive".

The Century Life insurance had been taken out many years ago, said Allibone, and was probably worth a lot more than Kaila expected.

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