Mum who faked death in life insurance fraud attempt jailed
A mother who faked her death in Africa and instructed her teenage son to lodge a £136,000 (€153,000) life insurance claim has been jailed for two and a half years.
Arafa Nassib was rumbled when investigators found no trace of her supposed grave in Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania, and were told she was living in Canada.
Nassib's 18-year-old son Adil Kasim was given a "lenient" 12-month community order at Birmingham Crown Court after the pair, both of Lower Rushall Street, Walsall, admitted conspiracy to defraud Scottish Widows.
The court heard Nassib, 48, racked up debts of £80,000 before deciding to travel to Zanzibar, where she was said to have fallen victim to a car crash in April last year.
Kasim, an art and design student, was arrested last year after submitting a "false but official-looking" death certificate said to have been issued by a hospital in Tanzania.
The court was told Nassib, who came to Britain from Kenya as a refugee in 1998, had built up debts of £80,000 stemming from purchases made at furniture firms BrightHouse and PerfectHome.
Opening the facts against the mother and son, prosecutor Jonathan Barker told the court Nassib took out life insurance policies under a former name in 2013, naming her son as the beneficiary.
Mr Barker said: "On May 6 2016 a claim was sent to Scottish Widows by letter by her son, Adil Kasim.
"Had the fraud been successful then the conspirators would have benefited to the sum of £136,530."
The claim, the court heard, stated that Nassib had died from a severe head injury and was backed up by a death certificate dated April 14 2016.
Insurance investigators then travelled to Zanzibar and found that a doctor who was reported to have treated Nassib was not working, or even in Tanzania, on the day of her alleged death.
It was then established that Nassib had flown back to Birmingham on an Emirates flight and travelled on to Canada after speaking to her son on a mobile phone while in the UK.
Passing sentence, Recorder William Edis QC told Nassib she had presented no evidence to support claims she had intended to help her sister living in poverty in Tanzania.
The judge said of the insurance scam: "It was from beginning to end a pack of lies.
"This was an organised, sophisticated, carefully-designed plan that came close to working.
"Had Tanzania not been flagged as a high-risk country (for insurance fraud) it is reasonable to suppose you might have got away with it.
"Honesty in the insurance claims process is imperative, else the whole insurance system is at risk.
"There is a role for deterrent sentencing."
The judge added that Kasim, then aged 17, had been a necessary "pawn in this game" with his mother acting as the directing force of the fraud.
Judge Edis said he was not ashamed of the "lenient" sentence being handed to the teenager, telling him: "You could not complain were I to send you to a young offenders' institution.
"You were fed a script and parroted it.
"You were in effect certifying somebody dead who you knew to be alive."
City of London Police, which investigated the attempted fraud, said Nassib returned to the UK in February this year.
Speaking after the case, Detective Constable Daryl Fryatt, said: "Nassib and Kasim exploited the insurance industry for their own monetary gain, going to great lengths to try and avoid detection.
"Nassib moved her entire life abroad simply to try and avoid the consequences of faking her own death."
A Scottish Widows spokesperson said: "We have robust fraud prevention measures which enabled us to identify this fraud quickly and refer it to the City of London Police's Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department."