It’s the kind of dark scenario you’d likely see play out in a Quentin Tarantino movie – except that it happened in real life.
A Slovenian woman deliberately sawed off her own hand with the help of a circular saw, all for the sake of being able to fraudulently claim on insurance payouts.
The only problem was, her gruesome attempt at the insurance scam didn’t quite go to plan, and now the woman is serving a jail sentence after being caught for the offence.
Let’s unpack this…
Back in 2019, 22-year-old Julija Adlesic from Ljubljana, Slovenia, was hoping to rake in a whopping sum of around $1.18million in insurance payouts after her and her boyfriend staged a plan which saw Ms Adlesic sever her hand and leave it at home while her partner’s father drove them to the local hospital.
When they arrived at the hospital, they told doctors that Ms Adlesic had been sawing branches when the accident happened.
But unbeknownst to them, given Ms Adlesic had previously taken out five insurance policies a year prior to cutting off her hand, she was being investigated, and so, not long after arriving at the hospital, her and a number of relatives were arrested.
They were immediately detained, and if convicted, faced the possibility of up to eight years in jail for the insurance fraud offence.
Court Finds Ms Adlesic and Boyfriend Intentionally Left Severed Hand at Home Rather Than Bringing it to Hospital to Ensure Disability was Permanent
In September 2020 at Ms Adlesic’s sentencing, judges ruled that she had made the intentional decision to saw off her hand given the woman’s previous dubious history of taking out five insurance policies a year for supposed injuries.
The court found that she and her boyfriend had deliberately left the severed hand behind rather than taking it with them to the hospital in order to ensure the disability was permanent.
Nevertheless, authorities were able to recover it in time and sew it back on.
Further substantiating the insurance fraud, prosecutors revealed the woman’s boyfriend had also made several internet searches about artificial hands in the days beforehand.
They affirmed this was proof that the injury was intentional and the plan pre-conceived.
Ms Adlesic was subsequently found guilty of attempted insurance fraud.
She was sentenced to two years in jail, while her boyfriend was given a three-year sentence for his involvement in the crime.
Ms Adlesic’s boyfriend’s father was also given a one-year suspended sentence.
Throughout the trial, Ms Adlesic protested her innocence, denying that she intentionally cut off her hand.
“No one wants to be crippled. My youth has been destroyed. I lost my hand at the age of 20,” she said.
“Only I know how it happened.”
Upon delivering the verdict, Judge Marjeta Dvornik said, “We believe the sentences are fair and appropriate, and will serve their purpose”.
Had Ms Adlesic not been caught, she would have had half of the estimated $1.18million paid to her immediately, with the rest arriving in monthly instalments.
Penalties for Insurance Fraud
Insurance fraud – or the deliberate deception of insurance companies for the purpose of obtaining a financial gain – is a criminal offence.
Across Australia, the problem costs billions of dollars each year, and in turn, forces up the price of premiums for everyone.
Insurance fraud can be committed on a small scale, or extend to far-reaching forms of criminal activity.
In NSW, insurance fraud is generally dealt with under section 192E of the Crimes Act 1900.
Section 192E states that a person who, by any deception, dishonestly obtains property belonging to another, or obtains any financial advantage or causes any financial disadvantage, is guilty of the offence of fraud.
Additionally, a person’s obtaining of property belonging to another may be dishonest even if the person is willing to pay for the property.
Under this section, there is a maximum penalty if convicted of a 10-year prison sentence.
In some cases, you may also be required to pay back the amount that was defrauded.
Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.