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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Insurance fraud has reached epidemic levels in the UK.
It's costing us more than £1.3 billion every year.
That's almost 3.6 million every day.
Deliberate crashes, bogus personal injuries, even phantom pets.
The fraudsters are risking more and more to make a quick killing
and, every year, it is adding around £50 to your insurance bill.
But insurers are fighting back,
exposing just under 15 fake claims every hour.
Armed with covert surveillance systems...
Subject out of the vehicle.
..sophisticated data analysis techniques...
..and a number of highly-skilled police units...
Stay where you are!
..they're catching the criminals red-handed.
Just don't lie to us.
All those conmen, scammers and cheats on the fiddle
are now caught in the act and claimed and shamed.
A flashy fraudster shows off his ill-gotten gains...
Exotic foreign holidays, exotic cars,
we've identified £80,000 plus that couldn't be accounted for.
It's a family affair, as one scammer steals from her own grandmother.
This was so premeditated.
I should imagine she's extremely unpopular in her family.
And one claimant develops a very convenient case of amnesia.
If you're a 17-year-old trying to get insurance on your first car,
the premiums can be eye-wateringly expensive -
well over £2,000 a year.
And it goes up from there if you happen to be male,
so if a broker offered you a much lower price,
you can see why the temptation would be there to go for it,
even if you thought it all sounded a bit too good to be true.
It's these sorts of high-risk individuals that so-called
ghost brokers target, as Clare Lunn
from insurance providers LV explains.
A ghost broker is an individual or group of individuals who set up
policies for the general public,
deliberately misrepresenting the risk to obtain cheaper premiums.
So, a ghost broker might sell a policy to a 17-year-old,
but get a cheap price, by telling the insurer
it's for an older, lower-risk driver.
The ghost broker then pockets the difference between what the policy
costs and what he charged the 17-year-old.
What's more, the insurance policy would be worthless,
leaving the 17-year-old uncovered.
In the worst-case scenario,
someone who's been a victim of a ghost broker can be driving around
in a vehicle, thinking that they're actually insured,
when the policy has been cancelled and they're driving uninsured.
Back at the start of 2013,
LV started to get suspicious that they were being targeted by a ghost
broker. They noticed some startling similarities in the details
of some of their motor insurance policies.
There were some key factors that linked these policies together.
These were the use of bank accounts and foreign cards which had been
compromised and also e-mail addresses
and a common occupation of accountancy.
During the investigations into the e-mail addresses and bank accounts
that had been used on several different policies,
one name kept cropping up - a Mr Abdulatif.
At first, LV were only suspicious about a few motor policies,
but once they knew what and who to look for,
the scale of the fraud escalated.
Originally, this started off as three policies,
but it very quickly grew and it was, in fact, the fastest-growing
fraud ring in LV's history, until it reached nearly 700 policies.
With suspected fraud on a level this vast,
LV got in touch with IFED.
IFED is the City of London Police's
Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department -
a dedicated team of detectives
committed to stopping insurance fraud cheats.
There is ever-more sophisticated
detection tools being used by the industry.
We're getting more and more cases every day.
This elite squad has prevented millions of pounds from being paid
out to criminals in fraudulent claims.
From now on, insurance cheats need to look over their shoulders.
It's all fraud, it's all crime and it can all lead to prison.
Police, don't move, stay where you are!
Police Sergeant Steven Holland works for IFED.
Once the team took up the case of the suspected ghost broker,
their first port of call
was to start investigating the prime suspect...
The initial investigation starts
with some financial investigation work which highlighted that
Mr Abdulatif is earning money through illegitimate sources,
we believe. He stated his occupation was a trainee estate agent
and also a courier. However, we've identified £80,000-plus
of money going to the account that couldn't be accounted for.
They also undertook a social networking search
and were utterly astonished at what they found.
Mr Abdulatif was enjoying luxuries well beyond the means of a trainee
estate agent. He'd posted countless
photos of himself all over his social media pages,
flaunting his wealth and expensive tastes.
It shows Mr Abdulatif living a champagne lifestyle.
Exotic foreign holidays.
Something that we wouldn't put together with
a trainee estate agent's salary.
Everything indicated towards us that Mr Abdulatif was involved in the
ghost broking and he was our initial and only suspect.
If this wasn't proof enough,
the investigation uncovered further undeniable evidence
that Mr Abdulatif was, indeed, a ghost broker.
We found over 100 text messages, in relation to offering and asking
to supply fraudulent insurance.
We also seized a laptop and, within that, we found several insurance
companies, certificates of insurance, which he was obviously
doctoring to provide to the people who were buying the insurance
policies, but they were all fraudulent.
And a lot of unsuspecting people
were buying their car insurance through
this particularly showy fraudster.
Mr Abdulatif was making money through either selling
fraudulent insurance policies
to members of the public and they would pay him and that money
would go into his own bank account,
or alternatively, he was phoning the insurance companies directly
and paying for these policies with compromised bank cards
or compromised bank account details.
The policies paid for by these fake or fraudulently-acquired bank cards
would quickly be cancelled by the insurance company,
but of course, Abdulatif wouldn't tell his clients this,
so many were driving around totally unaware that they had
no car insurance whatsoever.
If one of these fraudulent insurance policyholders were in an accident,
unfortunately, their policy would be worthless.
Mr Abdulatif took advantage of innocent members of the public
who paid him for their car insurance,
but ended up with either no motor policy, at all,
or a totally-invalid insurance policy.
But this wasn't as low as this greedy fraudster would go.
Mr Abdulatif realised that he could make even more money by selling
insurance to the otherwise uninsurable.
Mr Abdulatif was selling these policies to either genuine members
of the public who thought they were buying insurance,
but we also noticed a proportion of these policies going to known
criminals and to criminals who had either been disqualified from
driving, for offences such as drink-driving, or totting up points
for things like no insurance.
Thanks to Mr Abdulatif,
banned drunk drivers were getting back behind the wheel.
To provide these disqualified drivers with motor policies,
he would simply forget to tell the insurance company that these people
had convictions, in the hope they wouldn't check.
But they did.
Despite thinking he was untouchable, the police arrested Mr Abdulatif.
And in October 2015, he was tried at the Old Bailey.
We had a really strong case with all the evidence that we seized and that
we went through and it showed
Mr Abdulatif provided fraudulent insurance policies
to various members of the public.
Mr Abdulatif pleaded guilty to 18 charges of fraud.
He had made over £100,000 from his criminal activities.
Abdulatif was sentenced to three years behind bars and given
a confiscation order,
meaning that almost all of the money will be recovered.
Coming up, a cat owner attempts to defraud her insurers, to pay for
the treatment of her precious pet's upset tummy.
The policy holder knew exactly what they were doing.
Family heirlooms are priceless.
Really, there's no insurance cover in the world that can account for
the sentimental value attached to items that have been handed down
through the generations. But of course, if something has
a financial value to it, as well as a sentimental one,
it makes perfect sense to make sure
it's included in your household insurance.
Companies like RSA provide exactly this sort of protection.
John Beadle heads up their counter-fraud department
and previously dealt with a customer who had taken out contents insurance
on her home.
This particular lady took out a household policy with us
and one of the specified items on
her policy for all-risk cover was an
valued at £11,650.
So, an expensive piece of jewellery,
which also had a rich family history,
making it all the more valuable to the claimant.
The ring actually had come from her grandmother,
who had, in turn, been given it by her grandfather,
who had bought it for his wife when he came back from India.
A lovely little gem of a story, but it wasn't to have a happy ending.
A very short time after she took the policy out, she made a claim,
saying that the ring had slipped off her finger
and got lost while she was gardening.
Now, I've heard of having green fingers,
but wearing your grandma's emerald ring, worth over 11 grand,
whilst doing a spot of weeding seemed unlikely.
John and his team weren't altogether convinced by the granddaughter's
story, and asked her for further information.
She provided to us some photographs of her wearing the ring,
which, in itself, was quite curious,
the way the photographs had almost been purposefully done to show
the ring, and she produced a valuation for the ring,
which had actually only just been obtained
a relatively short while beforehand.
Something just wasn't ringing true about the story of the lost piece
-I think there were a number of factors
that conspired together to make us suspicious of this claim.
The loss occurring so shortly after the policy had been taken out,
the photographs, the recent evaluation which had been obtained,
all added up to make us a little suspicious around the claim,
so we decided to investigate further.
And where better to get a few pearls of wisdom about the case than from
the original owner of the ring, the claimant's grandmother?
We spoke to the grandmother, who actually confirmed to us
that the ring belonged to her,
and hadn't been gifted to her granddaughter.
And, in fact, the ring was still in the possession of the grandmother.
She told us that the ring she hid in a secret place in her bedroom.
The plot thickens.
The ring wasn't lost, at all, but safe and sound in granny's house.
However, there was another mystery to solve.
Strangely enough, she did notice the ring missing recently,
for a relatively short period,
but the ring then reappeared back in its hiding place.
Very few people knew where granny hid her precious emerald ring.
Conveniently, her granddaughter did.
To John and his team, it was obvious
what their gold-digging customer had been up to.
The claimant had removed the ring
from her grandmother's hiding place...
..taken photos of it on her finger...
..and took a policy out with us
with the specific aim of making a claim for
the ring. Then, put the ring back where she had removed it from,
in her grandmother's bedroom.
They confronted their scamming customer with the facts they had
gleaned from her own relative.
She did try to withdraw the claim and cancel her policy,
but the circumstances around this
were so well thought-out that we decided
it was a case that we needed to refer to IFED
and that's what we did.
IFED were keen to take up the case,
and soon caught up with the claimant.
She received a caution...
..and, ultimately, we have now placed her on
the insurance fraud register,
which will cause her problems when she tries to get insurance
in the future.
But you'd hope that she was also getting a fair amount of comeuppance
closer to home.
I should imagine she's extremely unpopular in her family.
I mean, this was so premeditated,
and unbeknown to anybody else in her family,
she had ultimately embroiled them, in her attempt to obtain
quite a large amount of money.
This fraudster's golden plan to make a quick £11,650
was quickly foiled by John and his team.
As long as insurance policies exist,
there will always be people out there who try and abuse the system.
If an insurance company even has an inkling that something isn't quite
right with a claim, they can refer it up to specialist agents.
Agents like those employed at I-COG Claims Management,
whose staff is trained to analyse speech and behaviour patterns,
in order to expose those claimants
who may not be telling the whole truth.
One such claim was recently referred to Claire Mitten,
I-COG's highly-skilled Operations Director.
The case involves a man who claimed he'd been the victim of a mugging
in a park in Glasgow, in which his gold necklace
had been snatched from around his neck.
The total of the claim was £750.
He was claiming for a gold chain
which had a diamante boxing glove pendant attached to it.
Before we even got to speak to the insured,
he had three failed appointments, where he wouldn't answer our calls.
There were just so many concerns with it that we knew straightaway
that this was a really interesting claim to deal with.
It was fourth time lucky,
as Claire finally got through to the claimant, to get a blow-by-blow
account of the theft of his boxing-glove necklace.
So, a dramatic and frightening mugging,
the sort of attack that can leave its mark on the victim
both emotionally and physically.
To Claire, the lack of injuries
sustained by the claimant seemed unusual
for an attack this physical,
and especially given that a fairly thick necklace
had been pulled off his neck.
You would have thought that there would be some markings to the neck,
such as scratchings or bruising to the neck
where it had been ripped off.
When somebody has been attacked, more often than not they can
describe the offenders in great detail,
because they've been so close to them.
This insured was not able to give us any description, other than he was
a well-dressed junkie with yellow skin.
It seemed odd to Claire that the customer couldn't describe
his attacker well, but it was what he claimed happened
immediately after the attack that left his story on the ropes.
Rather than calling 999 or seeking any sort of help,
the claimant got into his car
and drove off to collect his wife from work, as normal.
The claimant went on to explain that, after he'd picked up his wife,
they did then go to their local police station,
to report the incident.
Even if you lost your chain in the park, rather than had it stolen,
you would still be given some sort of reference number from the police,
so this was really alarming.
The claimant was sticking to his story that he'd not been given
a crime reference number, but the staff at I-COG have
an expert knowledge of police systems and this gave Claire
the upper hand. The gloves were now off, as she challenged
her opponent further about his alleged written statement.
When we asked the insured if we were able to contact the police,
to get a copy of the statement that he made,
he actually softened his voice. He became very nervous and explained
that he didn't know what the police would be able to provide us with.
If you do report an incident like that to the police and you have
given a statement, then actually those reports and statements
need to be kept for at least 15 years.
There was one final inconsistency, in regards to the detail
of the fight in the park
that really packed the finishing punch to the validity of the case.
It was the claimant's wife who had initially rung the insurance company
to report her husband's mugging. But the version of events she told them
differed substantially to what the claimant had just told Claire.
Whether you make a claim that's worth £250 or a claim that is worth
£1 million, the claim is always going to be investigated
by the insurance company, and there's no way of thinking that,
just because it's a low-value claim, it's going to get paid out.
If it's not right, if the account doesn't add up,
if the information you've given doesn't add up,
then it will get investigated further.
And in this case, the claim didn't add up.
The inconsistencies and the fact there was no crime reference number
meant that Claire had no choice
but to recommend to the insurance company not to pay out a penny
for the alleged stolen chain.
Whether you're a dog lover
or it's cats that make you weak at the knees,
if you love animals and have a pet,
they soon become part of the family.
Many people get a bit of a shock at the amount vets charge
for their services. Sadly, there is no NHS for animals.
Thankfully, though, there are companies,
like Agria Pet Insurance, that will provide cover for vets' bills.
Back in 2014,
Simon Wheeler dealt with a case involving owners who had taken out
a policy for their Ragdoll cat.
The policyholder insured the pet on the 1st of December.
About 11 days after the policy started,
we got a notification from the policyholder that their Ragdoll
had suffered a bout of diarrhoea.
And we got a notification claim for probably around the £200 mark
would be coming in.
The poor moggy had come down with a bad case of the runs
and the owner had taken it to the vet for treatment.
The cat's illness may not have been pleasant, but the timing of it was.
All pet insurers insist on something called an exclusion,
or waiting period, before you can make a claim for your pet's illness.
This is to stop people from taking out cover
the moment they think their pet is sick.
Luckily, for the owner of this particular kitty,
the cat's illness started just one day
after they were allowed to put in the claim.
At the time that we received the claim,
the notification for the claim,
it was just outside the exclusion period for illness.
The dates all tied up.
So, to all intents and purposes, it seemed a valid claim.
The owner must have felt like the cat that got the cream,
knowing their vets' bill would be covered.
But as soon as Simon and his team were sent the paperwork,
they found a problem.
When we got the claim form,
we also received the full veterinary history from the vet
and, when we looked at the veterinary history,
we noticed the first signs of diarrhoea
and the first symptoms had been noted on the 4th of December,
so a long time before the policyholder had told us,
and certainly in the middle of the exclusion period
at the start of a policy for illness.
Simon and his team carefully examined the rest of the paperwork
and found something that really set the cat amongst the pigeons.
Not only did the policyholder
submit the wrong date in their part of the claim form,
they'd also filled in a date
on the veterinary part of the claim form
and put a Post-it note for the vet to say, if possible,
can you make the date the 11th of December or later,
otherwise this is unlikely to be covered.
This one Post-it note led to the entire claim coming unstuck.
It was blatant fraud.
The policyholder knew exactly what they were doing.
They knew that the condition of the diarrhoea wasn't covered,
that it occurred
within the exclusion period at the beginning of the policy.
They then tried to coerce, or persuade, the vet to support them,
in terms of getting a dishonest claim paid by the insurance company.
Unsurprisingly, Agria didn't pay out a penny for the treatment
of this cat's diarrhoea.
It's very common for vets to talk to us about claims
and for us to talk to vets about claims, when we receive them.
In this instance, I think the policyholder
misjudged just what information would come in with the claim
and what would be on that information.
Insurance fraud hits all of us in the pocket.
But more and more of these scammers and conmen
are being claimed and shamed.
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.