Nurse pleads guilty to making false HIV claim to land R1million insurance payout
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Durban - A registered nurse attempted to score on the R1 million dreaded disease cover her insurance company provided, by falsely claiming she acquired HIV while on duty.
But Shevon Naidoo, who works for a laboratory that services insurance companies, was unable to substantiate the July 2019 claim she made with the Old Mutual Group.
Even though she submitted tests results of another HIV-infected person as her own, her plan backfired and she was charged with fraud.
She admitted her wrongdoing and made a Section 112 guilty plea when she appeared in the Durban Regional Court on Wednesday.
A Section 112 plea allows for conviction based on the plea alone.
Naidoo, of Chatsworth, received a five-year jail sentence, which was suspended for five years, and a R10 000 fine or six months’ imprisonment.
Magistrate Anand Maharaj said he considered various factors before handing down the sentence.
It included the interests of society, her personal circumstances (a mother of two young children) and that she took the court into her confidence by pleading guilty and not wasting time.
Maharaj told Naidoo she would have received a term of incarceration if the matter went to trial and she was convicted.
Naidoo claimed she became HIV infected after sustaining a needle injury.
To authenticate her claim, she consulted a doctor, who requested her to do a blood test.
Through her network of contacts, she acquired test results of an HIV-infected person to submit as her own.
However, when Old Mutual’s forensic investigators began assessing the evidence she provided and requested further information, Naidoo was uncooperative.
She baulked at their suggestion of doing blood tests and eventually admitted her claim was not genuine.
In her Section 112 guilty plea statement read out in court by attorney Noven Naidoo, the nurse’s legal representative, she detailed her act of fraud.
Her main nursing duty was to visit insurance company clients, at their homes or workplace, to draw blood for tests.
In January 2019, she took out an insurance policy with Old Mutual.
About six months later, she attempted to cash in on her “severe illness claim benefit”, worth R1m, by saying she had contracted HIV.
“I misrepresented that during one of my interactions with a client/patient. I was injured by one of the needles and thereby acquired HIV.
“I saw this as an opportunity to make some extra money to sustain myself and my family and went along with this plan.”
Naidoo admitted her needle injury and HIV claim was fictitious. Therefore, she was not entitled to the money. When Old Mutual asked her to undergo a blood test, she withdrew her claim.
But that did not prevent the company from bringing the criminal charge against her.
“I admit my actions were wrongful and unlawful. I have no defence in law,” Naidoo confessed.
In response, State prosecutor Kuveshni Pillay said Naidoo “acted out of pure greed” and regretted her action.
During sentencing, Maharaj said: “I am mindful you pleaded guilty and took the court into your confidence. On the other hand, in terms of the offence and the manner in which you committed the offence, it creates the impression in my mind that you are an extremely cunning and deceptive person.
“You had the presence of mind to take a policy in January and falsify information a few months later to suggest that you were HIV infected, in order for you to claim a million rand.