Wednesday, March 18, 2009

ICBC Fraudster Repays Fire Department

Man Ordered To Repay Fire Department $960

A Maple Ridge man who set fire to his car with the intent of collecting on the insurance will have to repay firefighters for the cost of putting out the blaze.

The payment is one of the conditions placed on Thomas James Fergusson's probation, after he pleaded guilty to lying to ICBC. Fergusson was sentenced in BC Provincial Court to 12 months probation and 100 hours of community service, on top of being ordered to pay the Chilliwack Fire Department $960. The payment represents a portion of the estimated $3,000 cost of the department's time and resources.

"We believe it's one of the first times an ICBC customer has been ordered to pay restitution to emergency crews," said Steven Tripp, manager of ICBC's Special Investigation Unit (SIU), said of the court's penalty. "It's a unique penalty and one tailor made for the offence."

According to evidence presented by the Crown, Fergusson reported his car stolen on March 8, 2008, hours after the Ford Focus was destroyed by fire. SIU looked into the matter and, within weeks, Fergusson confessed he'd driven the Focus from his Maple Ridge home to the Chilliwack area, where he set it on fire.

The vehicle was valued at approximately $4,600, which ICBC would have paid out had the fraud not been discovered.

"We're committed to protecting our customers from fraudulent acts and those whose false claims threaten our low and stable rates," said Tripp.

March is National Fraud Prevention Month in Canada, and ICBC is marking it by helping customers and the public to recognize, report and stop fraud.

Insurance fraud is not a victimless crime; it affects everyone's insurance rates. Customers are encouraged to do their part to help fight fraud by reporting suspicious, exaggerated or fraudulent claims to ICBC's fraud tips line (604-661-6844 or 1-800-661-6844). Tip information is confidential and callers can remain anonymous.


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