Australian police had arrived at a rain-soaked Sydney intersection in May to find two mangled vehicles and a dazed Fadel who was eight months pregnant and reportedly suffering stomach and back pains.
She explained that after missing the stop sign, her car had ploughed into the side of another moving vehicle. But unbeknown to her and the other driver, a nearby CCTV camera had captured the entire incident on film. When investigators later uncovered the footage – it left them reeling.
Ghenoua Fadel and Jamal Gmrawi leave the court in Sydney after appearing on insurance fraud charges.
Far from being the victim of a major traffic accident, Fadel helped stage the crash as part of an elaborate insurance scam.
In shocking footage, she is seen ramming her car into the other vehicle which, moments earlier, had been strategically parked at the intersection.
On Wednesday, the 25-year-old appeared before Bankstown Local Court where, cradling her newborn baby, she pleaded guilty to not stopping at/before a stop line and publishing false misleading material to obtain advantage. She also acknowledged the other motorist, Jamal Gmrawi, was an associate of her husband.
Speaking on Saturday, a remorseful Fadel said she had been going through “a hard time” and “wasn’t thinking straight” when she committed the offence.
“I was worried about the car I had. I wanted a bigger car for my four children and couldn’t afford it,” she said, adding: “Of course I feel bad … that’s why I pleaded guilty.”
Far from being an isolated incident, the staged smash is part of an escalating national trend that is costing everyday motorists millions of dollars through increases in their car insurance premiums.
The insurance Council of Australia (ICA) confirmed on Friday that networks of professional criminals had become “highly active” in the “claims farming” practice because it facilitates numerous payouts across multiple insurers.
Like the majority of fake collisions, the case involving Fadel was stage-managed in a quiet area, during the dead of night, to minimise the risk of witnesses.
A 3am on March 17, she and her alleged accomplice, Gmrawi, were filmed arriving at an intersection.
After twice manoeuvring his Nissan X-Trail into position, Gmrawi is seen exiting his vehicle. Moments later, Fadel reappears, slamming her white Toyota Rav 4 into the Nissan with force, before walking away from the wreckage.
A third person, who police are yet to identify, is also witnessed around the scene, appearing to keep watch, in a separate vehicle.
After inspecting the damage, he then climbs into Fadel’s car and performs a second hit before vanishing from the scene, which is soon attended by police and ambulance officials.
In the days that followed, Fadel and Gmrawi lodged separate insurance claims that were collectively worth almost A$70,000.
However, when one company commissioned a forensic report, not only did it reveal that Gmrawi’s vehicle was stationary when the crash occurred – it exposed the two separate impacts.
During resulting police interviews, Fadel and Gmrawi maintained their original stories provided on the night – until officers presented the footage. According to sources, Ms Fadel told them she had used “pillows” to cover her stomach and soften the impact.
“It was a stupid act,” she said: “We learn from our mistakes.”
She will be sentenced at Bankstown Local Court on November 18. Gmrawi, who is also charged with publishing false misleading material to obtain advantage, has applied to be dealt with under section 32 of the Mental Health Act. He will appear before court the same day.
– Sydney Morning Herald