Durban – A registered nurse tried to score points in the dreaded R1 million illness coverage provided by her insurer, falsely claiming that she acquired HIV during the service.
But Shevon Naidoo, who works for a laboratory that serves insurance companies, was unable to substantiate the July 2019 claim she made to the Old Mutual Group.
Although she sent test results from another HIV-infected person as herself, the shot backfired and she was accused of fraud.
She admitted her wrongdoing and pleaded guilty to Section 112 when she appeared at the Durban Regional Court on Wednesday.
A Section 112 plea allows for a conviction on the basis of the plea alone.
Chatsworth’s Naidoo received a five-year prison sentence, which was suspended for five years, and a $ 10,000 fine or six months in prison.
Magistrate Anand Maharaj said he considered several factors before pronouncing the sentence.
This included society’s interests, her personal circumstances (mother of two small children) and that she trusted the court by pleading guilty and not wasting time.
Maharaj told Naidoo that he would have received a prison sentence if the case went to trial and she was convicted.
Naidoo said she was infected with HIV after suffering a needle wound.
To authenticate her complaint, she consulted a doctor, who asked her to have a blood test.
Through her network of contacts, she obtained test results from an HIV-infected person to present as her own.
However, when Old Mutual’s forensic investigators began to assess the evidence it provided and requested more information, Naidoo did not cooperate.
She hesitated at the suggestion to have blood tests and ended up admitting that her statement was not genuine.
In her Section 112 plea of guilt, read in court by lawyer Noven Naidoo, the nurse’s legal representative, she detailed her act of fraud.
Her primary function as a nurse was to visit insurance clients, at their homes or workplaces, to draw blood for exams.
In January 2019, she took out insurance with Old Mutual.
About six months later, she tried to profit from her “serious illness claim benefit”, worth R1m, saying she had contracted HIV.
“I misrepresented this during one of my interactions with a client / patient. I was injured by one of the needles and therefore I acquired HIV.
“I saw this as an opportunity to earn some extra money to support myself and my family and I followed through on this plan.”
Naidoo admitted his needle wound and the HIV claim was fictitious. Therefore, she was not entitled to the money. When Old Mutual asked her to do a blood test, she withdrew the request.
But that did not stop the company from moving the criminal charge against it.
“I admit that my actions were wrong and illegal. I have no defense in law ”, confessed Naidoo.
In response, state prosecutor Kuveshni Pillay said Naidoo “acted out of sheer greed” and regretted his action.
During the sentence, Maharaj said: “I am aware that you pleaded guilty and trusted the court. On the other hand, in terms of the offense and the way he committed it, I get the impression that he is an extremely astute and deceitful person.
“You had the presence of mind to take out a policy in January and falsify information a few months later to suggest that you were infected with HIV, so that you could claim a million rand.
“I agree with the State that this is an ‘extreme case of greed’. You were employed and earning a salary, ”said Maharaj.