Rampant Fraudulent Practices Betray Automobile Customers

It is unbelievable that a corporate culture placed so much emphasis on reaping profits that it encouraged fraudulent acts. The company’s responsibility for deceiving customers and spreading distrust is immeasurable.

Hiroyuki Kaneshige, president of Bigmotor Co., a major used-car dealer that also handles automobile maintenance, has announced he will resign to take responsibility for fraudulent auto insurance claims.

When Bigmotor received orders from customers to repair automobiles, its employees reportedly damaged vehicles intentionally and padded the repair bills when filing claims with non-life insurance companies. The aim was believed to be to boost sales.

In response to requests from the non-life insurers questioning the claims, among other factors, Bigmotor established a special investigation panel comprising outside lawyers.

The report of this special investigation panel revealed that employees dented the automobile bodies using socks filled with golf balls. Such perniciousness is unbelievable.

For the most part, the average car owner places faith in the explanations of auto repair companies and entrusts them with repair work, and accepts the fees charged. If Bigmotor took advantage of this situation and repeatedly committed fraudulent acts, it could only be a breach of car owners’ trust.

According to a questionnaire by the special investigation panel on employees, nearly 70% of respondents said they saw the fraud as stemming from the company’s policy to place the highest priority on increasing sales, with many respondents also citing “instructions from supervisors.”

According to the report, harsh personnel practices have become the norm, with people in managerial posts who fail to meet their sales quotas suddenly being demoted.

During his press conference, Kaneshige explained that he was unaware of the fraudulent acts happening at repair shops. If that is the case, then who directed such heinous acts? The structure of the wrongdoing must be brought to light. As the top executive, Kaneshige cannot escape responsibility for fostering a work environment where profit reigns supreme.

As of now, there have been 1,275 fraudulent auto insurance claims totaling ¥49.95 million. The actual number of fraudulent claims is believed to be far greater.

Bigmotor said it will conduct a new third-party investigation to check each claim one by one to see if there were any more fraudulent claims. The new management team must actively cooperate with the investigation and use this as an opportunity to rid the company of corruption.

Auto insurance policies were used for the fraudulent claims, so customers may be harmed in the form of higher insurance premiums. Non-life insurance companies should investigate the actual situation and take remedial actions.

The hope is that the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry will conduct on-site inspections of Bigmotor, among other steps, and thoroughly investigate the background of these fraudulent acts.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 26, 2023)