Episode 9 Claimed and Shamed


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Episode 9

IFED catch up with flashy fraudster, and a pet owner tries to encourage a veterinary practice to lie on their claim form.


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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 is 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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Subject out of the vehicle.

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..sophisticated data analysis techniques...

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

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Stay where you are!

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

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Just don't lie to us.

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All those conmen, 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 flashy fraudster shows off his ill-gotten gains...

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Exotic foreign holidays, exotic cars,

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we've identified £80,000 plus that couldn't be accounted for.

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It's a family affair, as one scammer steals from her own grandmother.

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This was so premeditated.

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I should imagine she's extremely unpopular in her family.

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And one claimant develops a very convenient case of amnesia.

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If you're a 17-year-old trying to get insurance on your first car,

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the premiums can be eye-wateringly expensive -

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well over £2,000 a year.

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And it goes up from there if you happen to be male,

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so if a broker offered you a much lower price,

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you can see why the temptation would be there to go for it,

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even if you thought it all sounded a bit too good to be true.

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It's these sorts of high-risk individuals that so-called

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ghost brokers target, as Clare Lunn

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from insurance providers LV explains.

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A ghost broker is an individual or group of individuals who set up

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policies for the general public,

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deliberately misrepresenting the risk to obtain cheaper premiums.

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So, a ghost broker might sell a policy to a 17-year-old,

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but get a cheap price, by telling the insurer

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it's for an older, lower-risk driver.

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The ghost broker then pockets the difference between what the policy

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costs and what he charged the 17-year-old.

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What's more, the insurance policy would be worthless,

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leaving the 17-year-old uncovered.

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In the worst-case scenario,

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someone who's been a victim of a ghost broker can be driving around

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in a vehicle, thinking that they're actually insured,

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when the policy has been cancelled and they're driving uninsured.

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Back at the start of 2013,

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LV started to get suspicious that they were being targeted by a ghost

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broker. They noticed some startling similarities in the details

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of some of their motor insurance policies.

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There were some key factors that linked these policies together.

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These were the use of bank accounts and foreign cards which had been

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compromised and also e-mail addresses

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and a common occupation of accountancy.

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During the investigations into the e-mail addresses and bank accounts

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that had been used on several different policies,

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one name kept cropping up - a Mr Abdulatif.

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At first, LV were only suspicious about a few motor policies,

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but once they knew what and who to look for,

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the scale of the fraud escalated.

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Originally, this started off as three policies,

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but it very quickly grew and it was, in fact, the fastest-growing

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fraud ring in LV's history, until it reached nearly 700 policies.

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With suspected fraud on a level this vast,

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LV got in touch with IFED.

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IFED is the City of London Police's

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Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department -

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a dedicated team of detectives

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committed to stopping insurance fraud cheats.

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There is ever-more sophisticated

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detection tools being used by the industry.

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We're getting more and more cases every day.

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This elite squad has prevented millions of pounds from being paid

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out to criminals in fraudulent claims.

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From now on, insurance cheats need to look over their shoulders.

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It's all fraud, it's all crime and it can all lead to prison.

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Police, don't move, stay where you are!

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Police Sergeant Steven Holland works for IFED.

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Once the team took up the case of the suspected ghost broker,

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their first port of call

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was to start investigating the prime suspect...

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..Mr Abdulatif.

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The initial investigation starts

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with some financial investigation work which highlighted that

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Mr Abdulatif is earning money through illegitimate sources,

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we believe. He stated his occupation was a trainee estate agent

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and also a courier. However, we've identified £80,000-plus

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of money going to the account that couldn't be accounted for.

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They also undertook a social networking search

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and were utterly astonished at what they found.

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Mr Abdulatif was enjoying luxuries well beyond the means of a trainee

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estate agent. He'd posted countless

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photos of himself all over his social media pages,

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flaunting his wealth and expensive tastes.

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It shows Mr Abdulatif living a champagne lifestyle.

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Exotic foreign holidays.

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Exotic cars.

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Something that we wouldn't put together with

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a trainee estate agent's salary.

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Everything indicated towards us that Mr Abdulatif was involved in the

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ghost broking and he was our initial and only suspect.

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If this wasn't proof enough,

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the investigation uncovered further undeniable evidence

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that Mr Abdulatif was, indeed, a ghost broker.

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We found over 100 text messages, in relation to offering and asking

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to supply fraudulent insurance.

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We also seized a laptop and, within that, we found several insurance

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companies, certificates of insurance, which he was obviously

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doctoring to provide to the people who were buying the insurance

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policies, but they were all fraudulent.

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And a lot of unsuspecting people

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were buying their car insurance through

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this particularly showy fraudster.

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Mr Abdulatif was making money through either selling

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fraudulent insurance policies

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to members of the public and they would pay him and that money

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would go into his own bank account,

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or alternatively, he was phoning the insurance companies directly

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and paying for these policies with compromised bank cards

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or compromised bank account details.

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The policies paid for by these fake or fraudulently-acquired bank cards

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would quickly be cancelled by the insurance company,

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but of course, Abdulatif wouldn't tell his clients this,

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so many were driving around totally unaware that they had

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no car insurance whatsoever.

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If one of these fraudulent insurance policyholders were in an accident,

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unfortunately, their policy would be worthless.

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Mr Abdulatif took advantage of innocent members of the public

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who paid him for their car insurance,

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but ended up with either no motor policy, at all,

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or a totally-invalid insurance policy.

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But this wasn't as low as this greedy fraudster would go.

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Mr Abdulatif realised that he could make even more money by selling

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insurance to the otherwise uninsurable.

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Mr Abdulatif was selling these policies to either genuine members

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of the public who thought they were buying insurance,

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but we also noticed a proportion of these policies going to known

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criminals and to criminals who had either been disqualified from

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driving, for offences such as drink-driving, or totting up points

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for things like no insurance.

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That's right.

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Thanks to Mr Abdulatif,

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banned drunk drivers were getting back behind the wheel.

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To provide these disqualified drivers with motor policies,

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he would simply forget to tell the insurance company that these people

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had convictions, in the hope they wouldn't check.

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But they did.

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Despite thinking he was untouchable, the police arrested Mr Abdulatif.

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And in October 2015, he was tried at the Old Bailey.

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We had a really strong case with all the evidence that we seized and that

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we went through and it showed

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Mr Abdulatif provided fraudulent insurance policies

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to various members of the public.

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Mr Abdulatif pleaded guilty to 18 charges of fraud.

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He had made over £100,000 from his criminal activities.

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Abdulatif was sentenced to three years behind bars and given

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a confiscation order,

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meaning that almost all of the money will be recovered.

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Coming up, a cat owner attempts to defraud her insurers, to pay for

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the treatment of her precious pet's upset tummy.

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The policy holder knew exactly what they were doing.

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Family heirlooms are priceless.

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Really, there's no insurance cover in the world that can account for

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the sentimental value attached to items that have been handed down

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through the generations. But of course, if something has

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a financial value to it, as well as a sentimental one,

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it makes perfect sense to make sure

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it's included in your household insurance.

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Companies like RSA provide exactly this sort of protection.

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John Beadle heads up their counter-fraud department

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and previously dealt with a customer who had taken out contents insurance

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on her home.

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This particular lady took out a household policy with us

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and one of the specified items on

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her policy for all-risk cover was an

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emerald ring,

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valued at £11,650.

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So, an expensive piece of jewellery,

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which also had a rich family history,

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making it all the more valuable to the claimant.

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The ring actually had come from her grandmother,

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who had, in turn, been given it by her grandfather,

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who had bought it for his wife when he came back from India.

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A lovely little gem of a story, but it wasn't to have a happy ending.

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A very short time after she took the policy out, she made a claim,

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saying that the ring had slipped off her finger

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and got lost while she was gardening.

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Now, I've heard of having green fingers,

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but wearing your grandma's emerald ring, worth over 11 grand,

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whilst doing a spot of weeding seemed unlikely.

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John and his team weren't altogether convinced by the granddaughter's

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story, and asked her for further information.

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She provided to us some photographs of her wearing the ring,

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which, in itself, was quite curious,

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the way the photographs had almost been purposefully done to show

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the ring, and she produced a valuation for the ring,

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which had actually only just been obtained

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a relatively short while beforehand.

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Something just wasn't ringing true about the story of the lost piece

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-of jewellery.

-I think there were a number of factors

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that conspired together to make us suspicious of this claim.

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The loss occurring so shortly after the policy had been taken out,

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the photographs, the recent evaluation which had been obtained,

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all added up to make us a little suspicious around the claim,

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so we decided to investigate further.

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And where better to get a few pearls of wisdom about the case than from

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the original owner of the ring, the claimant's grandmother?

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We spoke to the grandmother, who actually confirmed to us

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that the ring belonged to her,

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and hadn't been gifted to her granddaughter.

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And, in fact, the ring was still in the possession of the grandmother.

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She told us that the ring she hid in a secret place in her bedroom.

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The plot thickens.

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The ring wasn't lost, at all, but safe and sound in granny's house.

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However, there was another mystery to solve.

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Strangely enough, she did notice the ring missing recently,

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for a relatively short period,

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but the ring then reappeared back in its hiding place.

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Very few people knew where granny hid her precious emerald ring.

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Conveniently, her granddaughter did.

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To John and his team, it was obvious

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what their gold-digging customer had been up to.

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The claimant had removed the ring

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from her grandmother's hiding place...

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..taken photos of it on her finger...

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..and took a policy out with us

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with the specific aim of making a claim for

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the ring. Then, put the ring back where she had removed it from,

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in her grandmother's bedroom.

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They confronted their scamming customer with the facts they had

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gleaned from her own relative.

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She did try to withdraw the claim and cancel her policy,

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but the circumstances around this

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were so well thought-out that we decided

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it was a case that we needed to refer to IFED

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and that's what we did.

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IFED were keen to take up the case,

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and soon caught up with the claimant.

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She received a caution...

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..and, ultimately, we have now placed her on

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the insurance fraud register,

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which will cause her problems when she tries to get insurance

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in the future.

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But you'd hope that she was also getting a fair amount of comeuppance

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closer to home.

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I should imagine she's extremely unpopular in her family.

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I mean, this was so premeditated,

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and unbeknown to anybody else in her family,

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she had ultimately embroiled them, in her attempt to obtain

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quite a large amount of money.

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This fraudster's golden plan to make a quick £11,650

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was quickly foiled by John and his team.

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As long as insurance policies exist,

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there will always be people out there who try and abuse the system.

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If an insurance company even has an inkling that something isn't quite

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right with a claim, they can refer it up to specialist agents.

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Agents like those employed at I-COG Claims Management,

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whose staff is trained to analyse speech and behaviour patterns,

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in order to expose those claimants

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who may not be telling the whole truth.

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One such claim was recently referred to Claire Mitten,

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I-COG's highly-skilled Operations Director.

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The case involves a man who claimed he'd been the victim of a mugging

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in a park in Glasgow, in which his gold necklace

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had been snatched from around his neck.

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The total of the claim was £750.

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He was claiming for a gold chain

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which had a diamante boxing glove pendant attached to it.

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Before we even got to speak to the insured,

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he had three failed appointments, where he wouldn't answer our calls.

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There were just so many concerns with it that we knew straightaway

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that this was a really interesting claim to deal with.

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It was fourth time lucky,

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as Claire finally got through to the claimant, to get a blow-by-blow

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account of the theft of his boxing-glove necklace.

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Mm-hm.

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Mm-hm.

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Mm-hm.

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So, a dramatic and frightening mugging,

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the sort of attack that can leave its mark on the victim

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both emotionally and physically.

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To Claire, the lack of injuries

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sustained by the claimant seemed unusual

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for an attack this physical,

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and especially given that a fairly thick necklace

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had been pulled off his neck.

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You would have thought that there would be some markings to the neck,

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such as scratchings or bruising to the neck

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where it had been ripped off.

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When somebody has been attacked, more often than not they can

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describe the offenders in great detail,

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because they've been so close to them.

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This insured was not able to give us any description, other than he was

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a well-dressed junkie with yellow skin.

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It seemed odd to Claire that the customer couldn't describe

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his attacker well, but it was what he claimed happened

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immediately after the attack that left his story on the ropes.

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Rather than calling 999 or seeking any sort of help,

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the claimant got into his car

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and drove off to collect his wife from work, as normal.

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The claimant went on to explain that, after he'd picked up his wife,

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they did then go to their local police station,

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to report the incident.

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Even if you lost your chain in the park, rather than had it stolen,

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you would still be given some sort of reference number from the police,

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so this was really alarming.

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The claimant was sticking to his story that he'd not been given

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a crime reference number, but the staff at I-COG have

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an expert knowledge of police systems and this gave Claire

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the upper hand. The gloves were now off, as she challenged

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her opponent further about his alleged written statement.

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When we asked the insured if we were able to contact the police,

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to get a copy of the statement that he made,

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he actually softened his voice. He became very nervous and explained

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that he didn't know what the police would be able to provide us with.

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If you do report an incident like that to the police and you have

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given a statement, then actually those reports and statements

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need to be kept for at least 15 years.

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There was one final inconsistency, in regards to the detail

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of the fight in the park

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that really packed the finishing punch to the validity of the case.

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It was the claimant's wife who had initially rung the insurance company

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to report her husband's mugging. But the version of events she told them

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differed substantially to what the claimant had just told Claire.

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Whether you make a claim that's worth £250 or a claim that is worth

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£1 million, the claim is always going to be investigated

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by the insurance company, and there's no way of thinking that,

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just because it's a low-value claim, it's going to get paid out.

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If it's not right, if the account doesn't add up,

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if the information you've given doesn't add up,

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then it will get investigated further.

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And in this case, the claim didn't add up.

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The inconsistencies and the fact there was no crime reference number

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meant that Claire had no choice

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but to recommend to the insurance company not to pay out a penny

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for the alleged stolen chain.

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Whether you're a dog lover

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or it's cats that make you weak at the knees,

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if you love animals and have a pet,

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they soon become part of the family.

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Many people get a bit of a shock at the amount vets charge

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for their services. Sadly, there is no NHS for animals.

0:24:310:24:35

Thankfully, though, there are companies,

0:24:370:24:39

like Agria Pet Insurance, that will provide cover for vets' bills.

0:24:390:24:43

Back in 2014,

0:24:430:24:44

Simon Wheeler dealt with a case involving owners who had taken out

0:24:440:24:47

a policy for their Ragdoll cat.

0:24:470:24:50

The policyholder insured the pet on the 1st of December.

0:24:520:24:56

About 11 days after the policy started,

0:24:560:25:00

we got a notification from the policyholder that their Ragdoll

0:25:000:25:04

had suffered a bout of diarrhoea.

0:25:040:25:06

And we got a notification claim for probably around the £200 mark

0:25:060:25:10

would be coming in.

0:25:100:25:11

The poor moggy had come down with a bad case of the runs

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and the owner had taken it to the vet for treatment.

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The cat's illness may not have been pleasant, but the timing of it was.

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All pet insurers insist on something called an exclusion,

0:25:240:25:28

or waiting period, before you can make a claim for your pet's illness.

0:25:280:25:32

This is to stop people from taking out cover

0:25:320:25:34

the moment they think their pet is sick.

0:25:340:25:37

Luckily, for the owner of this particular kitty,

0:25:380:25:40

the cat's illness started just one day

0:25:400:25:43

after they were allowed to put in the claim.

0:25:430:25:45

At the time that we received the claim,

0:25:470:25:49

the notification for the claim,

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it was just outside the exclusion period for illness.

0:25:500:25:53

The dates all tied up.

0:25:530:25:55

So, to all intents and purposes, it seemed a valid claim.

0:25:550:25:58

The owner must have felt like the cat that got the cream,

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knowing their vets' bill would be covered.

0:26:030:26:06

But as soon as Simon and his team were sent the paperwork,

0:26:060:26:09

they found a problem.

0:26:090:26:10

When we got the claim form,

0:26:130:26:15

we also received the full veterinary history from the vet

0:26:150:26:18

and, when we looked at the veterinary history,

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we noticed the first signs of diarrhoea

0:26:210:26:24

and the first symptoms had been noted on the 4th of December,

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so a long time before the policyholder had told us,

0:26:280:26:32

and certainly in the middle of the exclusion period

0:26:320:26:35

at the start of a policy for illness.

0:26:350:26:38

Simon and his team carefully examined the rest of the paperwork

0:26:390:26:42

and found something that really set the cat amongst the pigeons.

0:26:420:26:46

Not only did the policyholder

0:26:460:26:48

submit the wrong date in their part of the claim form,

0:26:480:26:51

they'd also filled in a date

0:26:510:26:52

on the veterinary part of the claim form

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and put a Post-it note for the vet to say, if possible,

0:26:540:26:58

can you make the date the 11th of December or later,

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otherwise this is unlikely to be covered.

0:27:020:27:05

This one Post-it note led to the entire claim coming unstuck.

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It was blatant fraud.

0:27:100:27:12

The policyholder knew exactly what they were doing.

0:27:120:27:16

They knew that the condition of the diarrhoea wasn't covered,

0:27:160:27:19

that it occurred

0:27:190:27:20

within the exclusion period at the beginning of the policy.

0:27:200:27:23

They then tried to coerce, or persuade, the vet to support them,

0:27:230:27:27

in terms of getting a dishonest claim paid by the insurance company.

0:27:270:27:31

Unsurprisingly, Agria didn't pay out a penny for the treatment

0:27:310:27:35

of this cat's diarrhoea.

0:27:350:27:37

It's very common for vets to talk to us about claims

0:27:370:27:40

and for us to talk to vets about claims, when we receive them.

0:27:400:27:44

In this instance, I think the policyholder

0:27:440:27:47

misjudged just what information would come in with the claim

0:27:470:27:50

and what would be on that information.

0:27:500:27:52

Insurance fraud hits all of us in the pocket.

0:28:000:28:03

But more and more of these scammers and conmen

0:28:030:28:06

are being claimed and shamed.

0:28:060:28:08

IFED catch up with flashy fraudster, a pet owner tries to encourage a veterinary practice to lie on their claim form, and a claimant develops a convenient case of amnesia when questioned about the circumstances surrounding his claim.