Warrant served on thumb-chopping insurance fraud suspect

KATHU: Crime Suppression Division (CSD) police yesterday served a search warrant at the home of alleged insurance fraudster Pichet Porntatipong, who insurers claim chopped off his own left thumb with a butcher’s knife in order to collect 16 million baht in claims on some 30 different insurance polices.

Lt Col Akkarat Limsangkard, Deputy Commander of CSD Sub-Division 5, called K. Pichet at 11 am, telling him he had a warrant to search his home at the Ploy Kiew Apartment complex in Kathu Village 1.

Saying he was out on business, K. Pichet asked for and was granted until 1 pm to accept the warrant.

Trailed by a large contingent of reporters and cameramen, the five CSD officers first paid a visit to the Chalong home formerly rented by K. Pichet’s friend Naret Phadda.

It was in the home’s kitchen, located at the back of the single-story dwelling, where K. Pichet claims to have accidentally severed his left thumb on October 11 last year while cooking.

The CSD officers took photographs of the kitchen from the outside of the home, which was unoccupied and locked when they arrived.

In his multiple insurance claims, K. Pichet wrote that he accidentally chopped off his left thumb while chopping pork bones and that the digit fell onto a stove, where it was badly burned.

Doctors at Bangkok Hospital Phuket were unable to reattach the thumb.

After losing his thumb, K. Pichet claimed the accident happened when K. Naret walked in the kitchen and accidentally knocked a pot onto the floor, startling him and causing him to lose concentration.

Arriving at K. Pichet’s Kathu home at 1 pm yesterday, the CSD officers were greeted by K. Pichet and his wife. After serving the warrant, they had little difficulty collecting the evidence they sought.

K. Pichet presented them with two knives, including the butcher’s knife, along with the cutting block and numerous insurance documents.

Col Akekarat told the Gazette that the investigators would make copies of any documents that K. Pichet wanted to keep for himself and deliver all the evidence to the CSD Evidence Division in Bangkok for processing.

The officers also plan to get testimony from more witnesses, he said.

Appearing poised throughout but actively trying to hide his thumb-less hand from view, K. Pichet told the Gazette he did not want to comment on the investigation and would only tell his side of the story before a judge.

“All I want to say is that my family is in the insurance business, so we know the importance of being properly insured. My life, the lives of all my family, my car, my home – I have insurance for all of it. I now have now 57 insurance policies, most of them for accident insurance. Every year I pay about 300,000 in premiums,” he said.

As for the ease with which the police search turned up the required evidence, he said, “After my thumb was cut off I continued to use the knife and chopping block. Later, after insurance companies received my claims, I was instructed to pack away the butcher’s knife and chopping block to serve as evidence in the case. So I placed them in this box,” he said.

Although he not requested to demonstrate how the thumb was severed, K. Pichet was questioned briefly on the matter.

“I can’t remember how much blood come out after my thumb was chopped off or whether the knife stuck into the chopping board after it happened,” he said.

Forensic evidence suggests that it took more than one chop to sever the thumb.

Forensic expert Pol Lt Col Dr Pattana Kitkrailas was shown photographs of Pichet’s hand and severed thumb. After analyzing the skin, he told investigators that the thumb could not have been completely severed in one chop and that the actual separation of the thumb from the hand occurred after an initial cut was made.

If found guilty of fraud K. Pichit faces up to two years in jail, a fine of 6,000 baht, or both.

Phuket News

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