Arafa Nassib was found out when investigators couldn’t find any trace of her supposed grave in Zanzibar. They were then told she was living in Canada.
Nassib’s 18-year-old son Adil Kasim was given a ‘lenient’ 12-month community order at Birmingham Corwn Court after the pair, both from Walsall, admitted conspiracy to defraud Scottish Widows.
The court heard that 48-year-old Nassib had 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, which he said was issued by a hospital in Tanzania.
The court heard Nassib came to Britain as a refugee from Kenya in 1998, and had built up debts from purchases made at furniture firms BrightHouse and PerfectHome.
Prosecutor Jonathan Barker told the court Nassib took out life insurance policies under a former name in 2013, naming her son as the beneficiary.
On May 6, 2016, a claim was sent to Scottish Widows by letter by her son Adil Kasim,’ Barker said. ‘Had the fraud been successful then the conspirators would have benefited to the sum of £136,530.’
The claim 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 she was supposed to have died.
It then emerged that Nassib had flown back to Birmingham on an Emirates flight, before travelling on to Canada. She spoke to her son on a mobile phone while in the UK.
Sentencing, Recorder William Edis QC told Nassib shes had presented no evidence to support claims she had intended to help her sister living in poverty in Tanzania.
‘It was, from beginning to end, a pack of lies,’ he said of the insurance scam.
‘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, or else the whole insurance system is at risk.’
Speaking after the case, Det Con 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.’