Episode 8 Claimed and Shamed


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Episode 8

A speeding fine uncovers a major fraud racket, and metadata contained in a photo puts a spanner in the works for a claim for stolen tools.


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Transcript


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Insurance fraud has reached epidemic levels in the UK.

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It's costing us more than £1.3 billion every year.

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That's almost 3.6 million every day.

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Deliberate crashes, bogus personal injuries, even phantom pets.

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The fraudsters are risking more and more to make a quick killing,

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and every year, it's adding around £50 to your insurance bill.

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But insurers are fighting back,

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exposing just under 15 fake claims every hour.

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Armed with covert surveillance systems...

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That's the subject out the vehicle.

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..sophisticated data analysis techniques...

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-Police!

-..and a number of highly skilled police units...

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Police! Don't move, stay where you are.

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-..they're catching the criminals red-handed.

-Just don't lie to us.

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All those con-men, scammers, and cheats on the fiddle

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are now caught in the act, and claimed and shamed.

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A simple speeding ticket leads to the bust of

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a sophisticated fraud operation...

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The scale of the fraud was massive.

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..a DIY enthusiast who attempted to defraud

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his insurance sees his claim come crumbling down.

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Not only would we have to cancel the policy,

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but we'd also have to seek the money back,

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for the sums that we paid for the replacement of the items.

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..and a gamble that a betting shop wasn't fitted with CCTV

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doesn't pay out.

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When dealing with large scale frauds,

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sometimes it's the smallest mistake that cracks the case wide open.

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In this case, a simple speed camera fine led to

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a fraud that was worth almost a quarter of a million pounds.

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If a motorist is caught speeding on camera,

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it's a straightforward process.

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A form is sent out to the registered owner of the car, and they're

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asked to fill in the details of who was driving at the time.

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That person then receives an appropriate penalty.

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Some try and cheat the system by entering false details.

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However, officers like PC Graham Radcliffe of the

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Greater Manchester Police are there to catch them.

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The case first came to light when a Mercedes car activated two

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speed cameras, one in Manchester, and one in the Midlands.

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Information was sent to the owner of the Mercedes to find out

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who was driving the car when it was caught speeding.

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The forms were returned to the police,

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saying that a woman had been behind the wheel.

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That woman was subsequently convicted.

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But there was a twist - she'd NEVER been in the car.

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She wasn't aware of the fact that she'd been nominated in the

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first place, and it was as a result of her subsequently complaining

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the fact that she'd been wrongly convicted that my inquiry began.

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Little did he know where it would lead,

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or what he was about to uncover.

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Graham established that the woman was indeed telling the truth.

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She had nothing to do with the speeding Mercedes.

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Complex investigations into how this woman's name had wrongly ended up

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on the form led Graham to an accident management company,

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called Optimum Claim Solutions,

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owned by a man called Jason Brown.

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The company did have some legitimate business,

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but Graham was quickly able to establish that Brown was

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involved in some very dubious activities indeed.

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He'd found that he could make more money out of falsely creating

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accidents and making claims,

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particularly very high credit hire claims for hire cars,

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for accidents that never existed, and personal injury claims.

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So, Brown was using his accident management company illegally

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in two distinct ways.

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Firstly, he'd make up totally imaginary accidents and claim

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that passengers had been injured in order to get pay-outs

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from insurance companies.

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He'd also tell insurers that he'd provided very expensive hire cars

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for people waiting for their crashed cars to be fixed.

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Again, the accidents would be totally fictitious.

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Graham arrested Jason Brown,

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and both his home and business premises were thoroughly searched.

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What was uncovered was clearly a large scale fraud in relation

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to false credit hire claims to insurance companies

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following accidents, accidents which never happened.

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Graham worked closely with those companies

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who had been targeted by Brown.

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One of them was insurance providers Allianz.

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Mihir Pandya heads up their fraud department.

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As it turned out, Jason Brown was already on their radar.

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His vehicle had allegedly been involved in an accident

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resulting in multiple whiplash claims.

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The total value of the claims submitted to us was in

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the region of £30,000.

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A significant sum, and not something that would be paid out

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no questions asked.

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When we receive claims of this kind, it's routine to do some enquiries.

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Almost immediately, they discovered fundamental problems.

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So many discrepancies.

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Some of the people were getting...

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Which car they were in, they were getting that wrong.

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They were using old addresses for Jason Brown when they were

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asked to say what details they'd just swapped.

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It even transpired that another car - the premium for that

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insurance was paid by Jason Brown himself.

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The multiple inconsistencies and the apparent links back to Brown

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called the whole claim into question.

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We started to have suspicions that this, in fact,

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was a staged motor accident, so we contacted Mr Brown.

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He ignored our letters. We tried to call him, he ignored our calls.

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After a few months,

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all the claims for the whiplash injuries were dropped.

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Thought that was the end of the matter,

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and it was a year later when Greater Manchester Police contacted us.

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Still to come -

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the police uncover yet more of Brown's insurance fraud shenanigans.

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He's just become over-confident with the fact that

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he can get away with it, but didn't think it through properly.

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Now, when you pop down to the shops, the last thing on your mind

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is getting hurt, but accidents can and do happen anywhere.

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Most shops make sure they have insurance,

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so if someone is injured on their premises,

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and it's in some way deemed to be the shop's fault,

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then the injured person can be properly compensated,

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and the pay-outs can be quite hefty.

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Royal Sun Alliance provides insurance for many retailers,

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and it's John Beadle's job to make sure that, when someone makes

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a claim against one of his clients, it's 100% legit.

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It's not unusual for people to put in spurious claims alleging

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that they'd suffered injury in premises such as supermarkets,

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and numerous other locations,

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but all these premises are routinely covered by CCTV,

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and it is amazing, really,

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that people still attempt to make these kind of allegations,

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which are clearly refuted by a simple review of the CCTV footage.

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So, when you're out doing your shopping,

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never forget Big Brother is watching you.

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Back in 2015, one of John Beadle's team members received

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a call from a man who had fallen over in a shop that RSA cover.

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So, in this particular case,

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the allegation was that they'd entered a betting shop,

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from a well-known high street chain,

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and had slipped on a wet floor, causing injury.

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It was slightly unbelievable, but not impossible.

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I guess somebody could have spilled a drink,

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or it might have been raining outside

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but, of course, the first thing we would do in such circumstances

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would be to review the CCTV.

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Unbeknownst to the claimant,

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the betting shop was covered by CCTV cameras.

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And from the moment they reviewed the footage,

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the odds were firmly stacked against this particular gambler.

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You see, they didn't slip on the wet floor at all.

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It was a mistake by the person in sitting down on his stool,

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which caused him to fall.

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The gentleman just puts the stool too far in,

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and when he goes to sit down, he actually falls off the back of it.

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The claimant clearly hadn't known that he was being watched

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by security cameras, and this was his major slip-up.

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Frankly, when we first got this claim,

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we couldn't believe that the person was making it,

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because it's quite clear what the cause of the accident was,

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and it was nobody's fault but his own.

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When confronted with the evidence, the claimant understood that,

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like him, the story just didn't stand up.

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We told him that, as a result of this investigation,

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we would not be paying this claim,

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and he clearly must have thought twice about it,

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and the claim went away.

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John's investigations had put a stop to RSA having to pay out

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compensation of around £6,000 for this clearly dishonest claim.

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Insurers are wise to this type of spurious claim.

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We will investigate each and every case fully.

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There is no quick pot of gold available here.

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My advice to people is - don't do this, you will get caught,

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and there can be severe penalties if you are found guilty of fraud.

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Earlier on, we examined a case where a simple speed camera investigation

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led to the exposure of professional insurance fraudster, Jason Brown.

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Brown owned a claims management company,

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called Optimum Claim Solutions,

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that was proving to be involved in an array of fraudulent scams,

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including claims for accidents that were totally imaginary.

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Things weren't looking good for Brown.

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He was already in custody at Greater Manchester Police,

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when his solicitor turned up with arms full of evidence

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he thought would help the case.

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A bundle of files were left at the front desk.

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Because these files were left, I looked at them.

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And Graham didn't like what he saw.

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One of the cases involved in this fraud was this same Mercedes

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that had activated these speed cameras.

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This car had allegedly been involved in a collision, in Failsworth,

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what we call a three-car shunt, and the Mercedes was the fault car.

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And the person recorded as being the driver of the Mercedes at

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that time was the registered keeper.

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I knew, because I'd previously interviewed him,

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that he'd never had possession of that car, so straightaway,

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this accident was likely to be a fraudulent one.

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Another red flag was the high occupancy rate of the vehicles,

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in particular the first car, which was a people carrier.

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It's supposed to have had seven people in it, and I think

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there were seven claimants to the insurance company for

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personal injuries in relation to that vehicle.

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And there were another two personal injury claims

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from the middle vehicle.

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The more claims, the bigger the pay-out.

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As if this wasn't enough to discredit the claim,

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there was a final nail in the coffin.

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As it transpired in the inquiry,

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all three of those vehicles were insured by Jason Brown.

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Well, the whole job was clearly fraudulent.

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The three-car collision in Failsworth was another

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made-up accident, and, of course,

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the seven people claiming to be injured were full of lies, too.

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But it was just the tip of the iceberg.

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Graham recovered another 400 files from

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a residential address linked to Brown.

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The scale of the fraud was massive.

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Around £225,000.

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Another scam that Brown was pulling

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off was duping multiple insurers

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into paying for the same hire car to act as a replacement vehicle.

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One car appeared on numerous claims.

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That particular vehicle, on one occasion,

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was allegedly out on hire to two people at the same time.

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One of those, for the value,

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or the value put in to the insurance company, was £40,000 plus.

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The evidence was mounting substantially against

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Jason Brown, when Graham's investigations uncovered

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yet another accident that looked likely to be fictitious,

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this time involving two cars.

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One of the drivers was a man called Billy Barnett, who had also

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featured as a passenger in the previous Failsworth collision.

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Billy Barnett was Jason Brown's step-son.

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Graham managed to get hold of the original phone call between

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Billy Barnett and the insurance company.

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The most striking thing about the phone call

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is that it's not actually Barnett.

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It's Brown, pretending to be Barnett.

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My feelings are that he's just become over-confident

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with the fact that he can get away with it,

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so I think he felt brave in making this telephone conversation,

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and felt he could ad lib his way through it,

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but didn't think it through properly.

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Brown's arrogance also extended to the methods

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he used to recruit people to take part in his scam,

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revealed when Graham interviewed the alleged injured passengers.

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The majority said that they were recruited whilst they were

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out drinking in a pub, or stopped on the street.

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What they were saying is, yeah, they did commit the fraud,

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but they were recruited for it actively.

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The person doing the recruiting was Jason Brown.

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In the space of 12 months, Graham's work had mushroomed from

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a case of speeding fines into fraud on an exceptional scale.

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During the course of this investigation,

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I arrested 24 suspects.

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There were 154 statements taken, and around 1,000 exhibits.

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The ringleader, Jason Brown,

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and others who had played an active part, were brought to justice.

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There was no arguing with the evidence against them.

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Everybody that was charged with the fraud-related offences

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pleaded guilty.

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The judge came down hard on the ringleader of the £225,000 scam.

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Jason Brown, the main man in the inquiry,

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was sentenced to five years and two months.

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And every penny he dishonestly made will have to be returned.

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If he doesn't pay back the £200,000,

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then that will ultimately result in him serving an extra term of

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imprisonment, and the figure will remain with him for life.

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It was a fitting end to Graham's 30-year police career.

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He has since retired from the force.

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It was ultimately going to be me last inquiry.

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It didn't set out that way, when I first took the case,

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because I didn't think it was going to turn into what it did turn into.

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Were it not for the speed fines, Jason Brown might have got away with

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his scam for longer, but he didn't count on the determination

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of Graham and his team to bring him to justice.

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The fact that it was my last job,

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I am quite proud of it and the outcome,

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specifically because I put so much into it.

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Now, everything is bigger in the US, nowhere more than in Texas,

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the Lone Star State.

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For Texan fraudsters,

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it's not enough to simply fake a personal injury.

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They go further.

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Much further.

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A few years ago, a tragic motor accident claimed the life of

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Clayton Daniels, husband of Molly Daniels.

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He died when his car burst into flames after leaving the road,

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and plummeting down a cliff.

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The fire was so intense

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that Clayton's body was burned beyond recognition.

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Molly and her two young children were left devastated.

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Luckily, Clayton had taken out a 110,000 life insurance policy,

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so Molly and the kids wouldn't have to struggle.

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In fact, far from going to pieces,

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Molly seemed to take the heartbreaking loss in her stride.

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A Texas Ranger, who spoke to her, noted that she was strangely calm

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throughout the interview,

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and, only a few weeks later, it emerged that Molly

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had embarked on a new relationship, with a man called Jake Gregg.

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But the new life Molly had created was a fiction,

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and the whole thing was about to crash and burn.

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Right from the start, there had been question marks about the accident.

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No skid marks had been found on the road,

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indicating that there had been no attempt to brake,

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and the fire that destroyed the car had originated in the

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driver's seat, not the fuel tank.

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What's more, it had been accelerated by lighter fluid.

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But what really brought the insurance claim to

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a dead halt was evidence from the body in the car.

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Investigators took one DNA sample from the corpse,

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and one from Clayton Daniels' mother.

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There should have been a match, but when the results came back,

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there was a shock in store.

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The body wasn't Daniels'.

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The police went back to search the new couple's home, and found a

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forged birth certificate and a fake driver's licence under the name

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Jacob Alexander Gregg.

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So, who was Molly's new man?

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Step forward...Clayton Daniels.

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The fiery car accident had been staged to get an insurance pay-out.

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Afterwards, Clayton had laid low,

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and then re-emerged with a different hairdo and a new identity,

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but that still left the question of the body in the car.

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And here's where things took a much darker turn.

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It turned out that Clayton had done the unthinkable -

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he had dug up the grave of an 81-year-old woman,

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called Charlotte Davis, who had been dead for six months.

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He had then dressed her body in his clothes, placed her in the car,

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set it alight, and then pushed it off the edge of the cliff.

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When police investigated Clayton further,

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it emerged that he was also wanted for skipping bail

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after pleading guilty to other serious crimes.

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Molly revealed her true colours

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when she tried to explain why they targeted Charlotte.

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According to her, "We felt, because she was older,

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"there would not be much family impact, if any."

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But the jury totally disagreed when the case went to trial.

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They awarded Molly the maximum sentence for her crimes,

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20 years behind bars.

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Clayton also received 20 years for insurance fraud, 15 years for arson,

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and ten for desecration of a cemetery, to be served concurrently.

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Coming home to find out that you've been broken into

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is always distressing.

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It is a horrible feeling, knowing someone has been inside your house.

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Taking out home insurance helps soften the blow,

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in case of a theft,

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and gives us the peace of mind that, if we're broken into,

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we'll be reimbursed financially, or any stolen items replaced.

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In October 2014, Lloyds Banking Group received a call from

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a customer called Paul Monday,

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who'd taken out contents insurance with them back in 2009.

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Paul was calling to let them know about a burglary at his property.

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David Berry, the technical fraud manager

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at Lloyds Banking Group was involved with the case.

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When we first had the claim presented to us

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everything looked perfectly in order,

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everything appeared to be genuinely stated, so to all intents

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and purposes, nothing at all looked wrong with the claim.

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So, basically, the sort of things you'd expect to find

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in a garden shed.

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However, there was one unusual item on the list of what was taken.

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Fair enough, not an everyday piece of sports equipment,

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but Paul Monday was claiming he had a monoski

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nicked from the back of his shed.

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Paul Monday was a happy customer.

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All his stolen tools would be covered

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and replaced with brand-new ones.

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However a few weeks later the team informed him

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that his monoski was not covered,

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as it needed a specialist sporting equipment policy

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and it was then that the tide started to turn.

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Monday suddenly seemed to remember a further item that had been

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stolen from his shed - a drill.

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When we explained that we couldn't cover the monoski,

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the customer asked us to consider the claim for the drill

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and explained, when we asked him why he hadn't told us

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about the drill previously, that he believed he'd already reached

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the limit of cover when actually he hadn't.

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It seemed plausible enough so the team asked Monday whether

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he had anything to prove his ownership of the drill

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and he responded by supplying a photo.

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But suspicions had been roused

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and the team bored down into the detail of the image of the drill.

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EXIF data or property data held on digital images

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is very simple to access.

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You click on the properties of the digital image and it will

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provide you with information such as the date on which the photo

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was taken, it will provide you with a time to the actual second,

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some of them will actually even provide you with the GPS

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location of where the photo was taken, as well.

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What they found out from analysing Paul Monday's drill photo

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opened up a massive hole in his story.

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It was absolutely key.

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It told us that the photograph had been presented and taken

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after the item was said to have been stolen.

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So, miraculously, Monday had managed to snap a shot of his drill

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after the burglary.

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The team confronted him with this evidence.

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The customer wasn't immediately able to explain that but after

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some further discussion he did actually admit to us that he'd

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taken a standard image from the internet, he'd presented it to us

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as the item that he had claimed for and he hadn't actually

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considered what the consequences of that might have been.

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And the consequences were really bad for this particular scammer.

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We explained to the customer that he had committed fraud in terms

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of the conditions of the policy and that the repercussion of that

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would mean that not only would we have to cancel the policy

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but we'd also have to seek the money back for sums we had paid

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for the replacement of the items that he'd already received.

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Paul Monday was less than impressed.

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The customer complained to the Financial Ombudsman Service

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and, in fact, the Ombudsman, on looking at all of the facts

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presented by both the customer

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and ourselves in terms of how we reach that decision, concluded that

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we had actually made a fair decision and that the claim shouldn't stand.

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Monday's objections had been overruled and he was instructed

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to play nearly £1,500 back to Lloyds -

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the value of all the new tools he had received.

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But it didn't end there.

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The case was referred to the City of London police's

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Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department

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and Monday found himself in front of a magistrates' court.

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He pleaded guilty in court to charges

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of fraud by false representation and as a result of that

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he received a 12-month conditional discharge.

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It may have been that Paul Monday's shed had genuinely been broken into,

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but by lying to his insurers and providing false evidence

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he's ended up owing them nearly £1,500

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and has a permanent criminal record to boot.

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Nobody likes paying more than we have to for everyday services,

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but this is exactly what's happening with insurance fraud.

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Scammers and conmen are swindling their way to pay-outs

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that they don't deserve.

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The knock-on effect is that the extra costs result in ever

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increasing premiums.

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We're getting hit in the pocket and it's not just organised

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criminal gangs to blame.

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Exaggerated household claims also take their toll.

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But instead of getting away with it,

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more and more of these fraudsters are being Claimed And Shamed.

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A speeding fine uncovers a major fraud racket, metadata contained in a photo puts a spanner in the works for a claim for stolen tools, a lie about an accident in a betting shop doesn't pay out, and in the USA an elaborate fake death scam is foiled.