Arrest after ‘family’ die

U’hage undertaker’s wife accused of defrauding insurance company

An undertaker’s wife has been arrested after she allegedly took out funeral policies on the lives of people she pretended to be related to. On each occasion the men and women died – some just months later – resulting in Old Mutual Life Assurance paying out thousands of rands, allegedly into Wendy van Willing’s personal bank account.

Van Willing, of Van Willing Funeral Parlour in Uitenhage, allegedly took out eight funeral policies – worth a total R125 000 – with Old Mutual Life Assurance between February 2008 and April 2013.

She allegedly pretended to be related to the said people – all of whom were known to her – and undertook to pay the required monthly premiums.

She then informed Old Mutual of their deaths and allegedly lodged claims on their behalf.

She claimed she was responsible for the funeral costs, the prosecution said.

Van Willing appeared briefly in the Port Elizabeth Commercial Crimes Court yesterday on eight counts of fraud.

She was released on warning and her case postponed to October 10 for the defence to receive copies of the docket in preparation for trial.

State advocate Ulrike de Klerk said Van Willing had extensive experience in the insurance industry due to her involvement with her husband’s funeral parlour.

According to the charge sheet, she applied for funeral policies on behalf of eight people, claiming they were either her cousin, brother, stepmother or brother-in-law, causing Old Mutual to process the applications and provide funeral cover accordingly.

All except her “stepmother” and “brother -in-law” died during that period It is not clear if the said people were ill at the time the policies were taken out, but all died within two years of the policies being issued – one after seven months.

All lodged claims were honoured by Old Mutual, allegedly causing them to pay more than R107 000 into Van Willing’s Standard Bank account during the five-year period. “[Van Willing] is not related to any of the persons and has no insurable interest relating to any of the said covered lives,” the charge sheet reads.

“Old Mutual would not have issued the said policies had those facts been made known to them at the time of processing the applications.”

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