LOCAL NEWS

Police unearth MASSIVE vehicle insurance scam

Police have busted a fraud syndicate that was stage managing road traffic accidents countrywide and then making false police reports to claim money from insurance companies which cumulatively runs into thousands of United States dollars.

The matter came to light after police separately arrested seven suspects in Harare who are linked to the scam.

Police have also recovered various ZRP fake date stamps for several officers-in-charge of the traffic section which the suspects were using to forge documents to claim money from insurance companies.

The suspects are the director of Panel Tech Motors, Henrics Providence Dhonga (30), Lloyd Makuzva (45) who is the company’s operations manager, Reality Njabulo Chuma (30) an insurance broker, Moheleza Kihahila (27) who is self-employed, Tinevimbo Clarence Marufu (31) who is employed by Tinogold Clothing Shop, Kudakwashe Kennedy Nyandoro (32), a surveyor with Forit Contractors Company, Onward Dewa (49) who was a salesman at the Bridge Car Sales in Groombridge and another suspect only identified as Munyaradzi Ramewa who is still at large.

Some of the suspects have since appeared in court while others are assisting with investigations. It is alleged that sometime in May this year, Dhonga was approached by Munyaradzi Ramewa who told him that his vehicle was involved in an accident and was parked at his house in Mutare and asked him to repair it.

On May 16, Dhonga is alleged to have insured Ramewa’s car, a white VW Touareg for US$90 000 through Chuma and the insurance had an expiry date of August 31, 2022.

On August 14, Dhonga and Ramewa went to Mutare where they stage managed an accident involving the VW Touareg vehicle as a sole party.

They then proceeded to ZRP Mutare Traffic to make a false report. It is alleged that on September 20, the two then made an insurance claim through Chuma to the effect that the car had been extensively damaged on its front, suspension, engine and gear box.

The case came to light when Old Mutual Insurance Company officials discovered that the photos that were sent by Dhonga and Ramewa to them were different from those taken by a towing company, Road Angels, at the scene. A report was made.

Further investigations by police revealed that in May 2022, Chuma had contacted one Debbie Tapera Dhonga who wanted his Nissan Tiida vehicle (AFR 9992) to be re-painted.

During the same month, Dhonga sent one of his employees to collect the Nissan Tiida, which was parked at his company premises.

Dhonga is alleged to have instructed his employee to side swipe the Nissan Tiida with a maroon Landcruiser belonging to one of his clients resulting in the Nissan Tiida having a scratch on the driver’s side as well as on the fenders.

On May 15, 2022, Dhonga filled in a Cell Insurance Company claim alleging that the Nissan Tiida had been involved in an accident at the intersection of Jason Moyo Avenue and Julius Nyerere Way in Harare with a Toyota Passo (AEH 9457).

The Toyota Passo belonged to Talent Mercy Muskwe who had a third party insurance under Alliance Insurance.

However, Dhonga then used a fake police date stamp to authenticate the claim forms which they submitted to the insurance company but the matter came to light when the officials received a tip-off that the documents were fake.

Acting on a tip off last Saturday, police arrested Dhonga and Makuzva at their workplace before they led detectives to the recovery of various police stamps in a black satchel at the back seat of a Mazda CX5 (AFF 1002).

The recovered stamps are for Mutengi and Nkomo Attorneys, Member-in-Charge ZRP Chitungwiza Traffic, Officer-in-Charge ZRP Chegutu, Officer-in-Charge Operations ZRP Southerton Traffic, ZRP Traffic Marondera, Officer-in-Charge Administration Avondale Traffic, Officer-in-Charge ZRP Traffic Process, ZRP Warren Park Traffic in of Charge Crime, the Officer-in-Charge ZRP Norton, Member-in-Charge Crime ZRP Mbare Traffic and a plain date stamp.

On Sunday, police also arrested Chuma after he was implicated in the scam.

They appeared before Harare magistrate Mr Dennis Mangosi on Monday who denied Dhonga bail while Makuzva and Chuma were granted $50 000 bail each.

Further investigations revealed that sometime in January, the other suspect, Kihahila was involved in an accident while driving an unregistered Mazda Atenza and he then approached Dhonga and Makuzva who promised to help him have full cover insurance for his car.

They then made a false claim at Old Mutual Insurance company before completing an insurance claim form through the insurance broker, Chuma alleging that Kihahila had an accident with a Toyota Camry and a Ford Ranger.

The suspects also made a false report at ZRP Southerton Traffic and Kihahila reported that his vehicle had been extensively damaged on the boot, boot lights, the whole left side, front lights, bumper back, bumper front, grille and bonnet.

The insurance company then paid US$7 000 cash to Kihahila before they were tipped about the scam leading to the arrest of the suspect.

Also on February 22, the fifth suspect, Marufu was involved in an accident with a woman driving a Mercedes Benz while he was driving his VW Golf 6 GTI (AFD 1478), which had a third party insurance cover.

The scene was attended by police before Marufu towed the car to his house. At the end of February, Marufu was linked to Dhonga again who, again using the same modus operandi, claimed full insurance through Old Mutual, claiming US$9 000.

Marufu was later arrested for the offence.

The other suspects, Nyandoro was assisted to claim insurance from Old Mutual for his Nissan Sunny (AFH 4318) for US$1 200 when it had not been involved in an accident.

The seventh suspect, Dewa was involved in an accident on Arcturus Road near Support Unit Chikuribi, Harare while driving his Toyota Mark II (AEL 2838) and he later had the vehicle towed to his home.

He was referred to Dhonga who falsely made an insurance claim from Old Mutual Insurance alleging that on May 28, Nyandoro was involved in an accident along Prince Edward Road in Harare with Marufu who was driving a VW Golf 6 (AFD 1478), claiming insurance amounting to US$2 000.

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