Episode 4 Claimed and Shamed


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Episode 4

A fraudster goes on the run after his home is raided by the police and a sportswoman's claims for loss of earnings falters at the start line.


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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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Subject out of 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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Police, don't move! 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...

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and claimed and shamed.

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Ifed raid the home of a suspected fraudster.

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Not commonplace to keep laptops in your bathroom, is it?

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..and CCTV catches out a would-be fraudster

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eyeing up an opportunity to make some easy money...

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That, to us, could look like he was searching for a suitable trip point.

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..and a professional horse rider,

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who claims an accident left her unable to ride,

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puts in an award-winning performance.

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All sorts of things can affect how much your car insurance will cost.

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Do you a garage? What do you do for a living? How old are you?

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One big factor, though, is location, location, location.

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If you live on an inner-city street with high rates of car crime,

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you are going to pay a lot more for you car insurance

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than if you live in a remote village where cars might break down but are rarely broken into.

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It's all about risk.

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Unfortunately, there are those out there who try to bypass this risk

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factor in order to make money.

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A ghost broker is a middleman who will sell someone a policy

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but then lie to the insurance providers about their details.

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So they might say a person lived in rural Hampshire

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when really they live in the city centre.

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They'll buy a very cheap policy, then sell it on for a tidy profit.

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However, the cover is worthless,

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as many of the driver's details are totally made up.

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That driver will think they're insured, but if they try and claim,

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they'll soon find out that their policy is invalid.

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It is, of course, totally illegal, but something that Tom Gardiner,

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head of fraud at Aviva, has seen too many times.

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This type of insurance fraud is particularly abhorrent because

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it exploits and preys on the most vulnerable people in society.

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They're sold policies and insurance which, when they need them, are worthless.

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And everybody else is paying additional premiums because of

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this type of activity.

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Back in 2013, the team at Aviva started getting suspicious

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that they were being targeted by a ghost broker.

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What alerted us was when we tied a number of motor insurance policies

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to just three bank accounts,

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and things unravelled quickly from there.

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Eventually, we were able to link over 150 policies to the same scam.

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Tom and his team investigated the three bank accounts

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that had been used on all these policies.

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This led them to one name - Mr Maur Dumitru.

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They quickly established exactly what they thought he'd been up to.

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What Dumitru was doing,

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alongside his job as a scrap metal worker in Manchester,

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was taking out bogus motor insurance policies with Aviva

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for friends and family,

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he was deliberately grossly misrepresenting those policies

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to get cheap cover.

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These policies were entirely worthless to the people

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that he was acting for.

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One of the big things that Dumitru would lie about was where the people

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he was getting policies for lived.

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Manchester is an expensive place to get your car insured,

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so he would say that they lived in the Scottish Highlands.

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But he didn't always do his research particularly thoroughly.

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In one instance, Dumitru had taken out 62 policies in a street

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that only had 28 residences.

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It was abundantly clear to Tom and his team

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that they'd found their ghost broker.

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Once we'd connected all of the policies to Dumitru,

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we put together an evidence pack and handed it out over to Ifed.

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The Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department, or Ifed,

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is a specialist police unit

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dedicated to tackling insurance fraud.

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They'll use their expertise, detective work

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and financial investigation to come after anyone committing

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insurance fraud, be it for a few pounds or several million.

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Sergeant Steven Holland and other Ifed officers picked up the case

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from Aviva and wasted no time in starting their investigations.

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Ifed immediately began research into Mr Dumitru's bank accounts to see if

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money was going in and out to Aviva.

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We also checked computer and telephone records

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to see if any communication between himself and Aviva was happening

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so we could substantiate the claims.

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The police needed to prove indisputably

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that Dumitru was the ghost broker.

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And it didn't take long for this proof to emerge.

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The key piece of evidence that we used was the computer,

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and being able to trace the address of the computer

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and some reasonably basic checks revealed Mr Dumitru's home address.

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The police had all they needed.

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They knew that Mr Dumitru's home computer

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had been the one used to set up all of those policies.

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All they needed to do now was to go out and arrest him.

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It's 7am, and two of Ifed's finest, Detective Sergeant Tom Hill

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and Detective Chief Inspector David Wood,

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are on their way to Dumitru's house to apprehend him.

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So, we've got a search warrant to search and we'll seize computer

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equipment and mobile phones that we believe were used

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to take out the policies.

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A raid like this is always tense.

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On any knock like this, we like to get in as quick as we can.

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It's very important for all sorts of reasons -

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officer safety, safety of the occupants,

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and also for securing evidence -

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that we go in quick, enter and take control of the premises.

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David makes sure that all his team are ready for action.

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What we're doing now is we're all getting in position,

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we've got officers covering the back, should anyone try and get away,

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or any evidence get discarded from the back of the property.

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And then, once we're ready, we'll start knocking on the door.

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-Open the door.

-Hello, police.

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Open the door, please.

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Police.

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There definitely seems to be someone home,

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but it takes a while for them to open up.

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-Morning.

-Morning.

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Police officers. We've got a search warrant for your address.

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It's a result for the team.

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Dumitru is in.

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We're City of London Police...

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Once inside, Ifed begin their search of the property.

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-Do you speak English?

-Yes, a little.

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OK, we have a search warrant,

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so we've got a warrant to search this address.

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Do you understand?

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The court have issued a warrant that allows us to search this address.

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The police need to understand everything the suspect is saying,

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as it could be relevant to their case.

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Dumitru might be talking about something that will affect Ifed's search of the property.

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With no way of knowing, Tom has to interject.

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Do you mind... Just stop a minute.

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Do you mind just speaking in English? Just speak in English. OK?

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-Otherwise, we'll just take one of you to the car and...

-OK, OK.

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That's all right.

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Upstairs, there's been a development.

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We've found a lot of laptops.

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It's not commonplace to keep laptops in your bathroom, is it?

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And that find seems to spark many more.

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They've found...

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a pile of laptops in the wardrobe, so we will seize them.

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Crucial to any Ifed investigation is to examine financial paperwork

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to look for anything suspicious.

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On one day, there are five separate payments

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to the one insurance company, each going out...

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sums between 40, 50, £60.

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That is highly unusual and wouldn't normally happen

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on a genuine policyholder's account.

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So we've got five separate payments going out.

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It's very good evidence for us.

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In addition to the frequent payments to the insurance company,

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there's also sums of money being deposited into the account.

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Several deposits of £1,200, £150, £800.

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So there's money coming into the account, which we suspect to be from

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people that are buying the bogus policies from these suspects.

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Busy bank account she's got there.

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With the search complete, Ifed take Dumitru,

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along with all the evidence seized at his house, back to the station.

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Ifed had their man.

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We interviewed Mr Dumitru and in that interview,

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he stated that he believed he wasn't doing anything wrong.

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And that the money going into his account,

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that we had called a setting up fee, was actually just a cash present.

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Ifed had more than enough evidence to charge Dumitru,

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in spite of his attempts to brush off the allegations with outrageous lies.

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But he wasn't going to go down without a fight.

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Still to come, Mr Dumitru becomes...

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a wanted man.

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He then failed to attend court and effectively went on the run.

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And a warrant was then issued for his arrest.

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Now, if I was a singer,

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I might consider getting my voice box insured,

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or a boxer, my fists.

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Dancer on Strictly, twinkle toes.

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In fact, most sports people do decide to pay for extra insurance

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to cover themselves in case of injury.

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You can't earn money when you're out of the game.

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Claire Mitten from i-Cog Claims Management remembers a recent case

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involving a professional horse rider.

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The claim came to us as a medical claim.

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The insured had been on a horse, she dismounted the horse,

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and as she did so, she turned her body at such an angle

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that she twisted the muscles in her back and caused herself severe pain.

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Sounds very unpleasant indeed, and the effects of such an injury on a

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professional sportswoman were considerable.

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The insured advised us that she was classified as totally disabled,

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which basically meant she couldn't carry out her everyday activities.

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She wasn't able to compete,

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so therefore she was losing money at the same time.

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Claire rang up the horse rider to hear about the accident first-hand.

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The rider's account of the accident sounded grim and very painful.

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However, Claire and the team at i-Cog have a vast amount of knowledge of patterns of behaviour

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when someone's had a traumatic injury.

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And for Claire, there was already cause for suspicion in this rider's story.

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So, as soon as the injury happened,

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the insured said the pain was so severe that it was ten out of ten.

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She still didn't feel the need to phone an ambulance or a doctor.

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For somebody that's stating that their injury is ten out of ten

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and so severe, as she did,

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the first port of call would be to phone an ambulance and get yourself

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to A&E to get checked out, especially with a back injury.

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No, no. No.

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Two uncomfortable weeks later,

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the rider finally went to hospital and stayed overnight.

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During that time, she received painkiller injections in her back.

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So the horse rider admitted that just a couple of weeks after her injury,

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she went to France for a competition.

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This was clearly something she shouldn't have done when claiming

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for total disablement, which included all loss of earnings.

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But the rider insisted it was a one-off.

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Unbeknownst to the claimant,

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the i-Cog team had done some background research and they knew

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she was taking them for a ride.

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Claire had found evidence that the rider had competed just three days

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after her fall off the horse.

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Yet, for months, she had been telling her insurers

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she couldn't ride at all.

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But it didn't end there.

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Claire was in her stride.

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Let's just review that last line.

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"I have to make a living as well, you see."

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Up till this point, the woman had said that she hadn't been able to

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make a penny from her profession as a horse rider

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and had been claiming for total loss of earnings.

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For Claire, the finish line was in sight and she was odds-on favourite to win.

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At this point, she tried to blame it on insurers.

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She tried to explain that when she originally rang the insurance company,

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they told her what to tick and they told her what information to put on

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the claim form. This wasn't the case.

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We'd already checked this out with the insurance company.

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She was just trying to get as much money out of them as she possibly could at this point.

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A success for Claire and the team at i-Cog.

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Lying to your insurer makes your whole claim invalid,

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so i-Cog recommended the rider received no further payments

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and that she should also pay back the money for her hospital stay,

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which she would have been entitled to, if only she'd stuck to the truth.

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Now, I, like most people,

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despair at over-the-top health and safety policies.

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I mean, who doesn't mind their head?

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Most of the time, anyway.

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But if you're a shop owner and someone slips over on your wet floor

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or trips on something you should have got fixed

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and it was deemed to be your fault,

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it can be very expensive to sort out.

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For shopkeepers, taking out public liability insurance means that if

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they do have to pay out on a claim for personal injury,

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it's not quite so bad for business.

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Allianz are an insurance provider that looks after many businesses and shops.

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It's Mihir Pandya's job to deal with the claims that come in.

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He recalls a case involving one of his clients.

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We received our first notification of the claim in July 2013 when our

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policyholder, who owns a small petrol station,

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told us that he'd received a letter suggesting that somebody had tripped

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on a cover outside on the forecourt.

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The individual concerned sustained injuries to his neck,

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back and shoulders.

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With a claim this serious, the team at Allianz needed to see

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any evidence of a potential trip hazard for themselves.

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As is standard procedure in these types of claims,

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we instructed one of our claims investigators

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to go and talk to anyone who might be working at the petrol station

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on the day in question,

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to take photographs of the forecourt,

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and just get a general feel of the circumstances.

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They found there was a manhole on the forecourt

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with a badly laid cover.

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At this point in their investigations,

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Allianz received a full written statement from the claimant,

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outlining just how badly he'd been injured.

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The claimant indicated that he was hurt to the point where he could not

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walk home unaided, so therefore called a friend to come

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and pick him up from the forecourt.

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The man was claiming £2,500 in compensation.

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And it seemed indisputable that the petrol station owner was at fault.

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However, there was a twist.

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The owner was adamant that no such fall had ever taken place.

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Lucky for us,

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it turned out that the owner of the petrol station had retained

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CCTV footage for the day in question.

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The team at Allianz spied the man in question at the premises

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on that fateful day.

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He's the one wearing the blue T-shirt,

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and arrives with two other people.

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What we have are three individuals crossing the forecourt...

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..and they enter the petrol station...

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..and they purchase cans of drink

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and then they leave the petrol station and disappear.

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Seemingly, the most dramatic thing to happen to the man that day was

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buying a can of fizzy pop.

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Confused, the investigators looked more closely at the footage.

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You can see one of them, the individual in the white T-shirt,

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kicking the ground.

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And that, to us,

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could look like he was searching for a suitable trip point.

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So perhaps the claimant's friend noticed the manhole cover,

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then they all went into the shop to buy fizzy drinks.

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Suddenly, an idea of how to make some easy money

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popped into the claimant's head.

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He could say he'd tripped over that manhole cover.

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But he wasn't banking on the premises having CCTV cameras.

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In his statement, the claimant tells us that he was on his own

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and after purchasing his drink, he left the petrol station,

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tripped over the cover, landed on his hands and knees,

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sustained injuries,

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and because he was on his own and he couldn't get home unaided,

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he called a friend to come and pick him up.

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Looking at this, complete lie.

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The CCTV footage had brought the claimant's story

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tumbling to the ground and, unsurprisingly,

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Allianz decided not to pay out.

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They did however decide to take the matter to Ifed.

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Ifed made arrangements to call the claimant in,

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and within the interview,

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the claimant made a full and frank admission

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that this was completely made up and it was an attempt

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to defraud Allianz insurance.

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On this occasion, Ifed gave him a police caution.

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It's disappointing that this wasn't taken to court and the claimant

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receiving a custodial sentence,

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but the fact is he received a police caution,

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that means he's got a criminal record,

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it means it goes on the insurance fraud register and it means that

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he's not going to be able to do that again.

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Let's head back to the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department,

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who are carrying out a dawn raid on a suspected ghost broker, Mr Maur Dumitru.

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Open the door, please.

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Under questioning, Dumitru started to be liberal with the truth.

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We interviewed Mr Dumitru, and in that interview,

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he stated that he believed he wasn't doing anything wrong,

0:25:520:25:56

and that the money going into his account,

0:25:560:25:58

that we'd called a setting up fee, was actually just a cash present.

0:25:580:26:02

Ifed had work to do.

0:26:020:26:04

They had to prove beyond any reasonable doubt

0:26:040:26:07

that Dumitru was guilty.

0:26:070:26:10

Two years later, and Ifed's hard work paid off.

0:26:100:26:14

The evidence against Dumitru was irrefutable.

0:26:140:26:18

At court, Mr Dumitru pled guilty to fraud by false representation.

0:26:180:26:22

And he was due to appear at the Old Bailey in July 2015.

0:26:220:26:26

On the day of Dumitru's sentencing,

0:26:300:26:32

the judge sat waiting for him to arrive. He waited and waited.

0:26:320:26:37

Dumitru never showed up.

0:26:380:26:41

He'd gone on the run.

0:26:410:26:42

We made concerted efforts to locate Mr Dumitru.

0:26:440:26:47

With efforts from ourselves and our colleagues at Greater Manchester Police,

0:26:490:26:53

we managed to locate him and he was arrested in Manchester.

0:26:530:26:57

Dumitru went underground for nine months before the police finally

0:26:590:27:03

caught up with him. This time, they weren't taking any chances.

0:27:030:27:07

He went back to the Old Bailey the following day and was remanded in

0:27:070:27:10

custody until he was sentenced.

0:27:100:27:13

He was sentenced to 18 months for fraud by false representation,

0:27:130:27:18

and also a further two months for failing to appear in court for sentencing.

0:27:180:27:22

A great result for Ifed and for Tom and his team at Aviva,

0:27:230:27:27

who had originally spotted the fraud.

0:27:270:27:30

So, Dumitru had cost the insurance company £200,000,

0:27:300:27:35

and for his fraudulent activity, plus his failure to appear at court,

0:27:350:27:40

he is now in prison for 20 months.

0:27:400:27:42

Whether it's exaggerating real injuries,

0:27:480:27:51

totally making up a story for a dodgy claim,

0:27:510:27:53

or masterminding insurance fraud on an industrial scale,

0:27:530:27:57

insurers are coming down hard on the people who think they can make

0:27:570:28:00

a quick buck with their scams and cons.

0:28:000:28:03

But the fraudsters need to think again,

0:28:030:28:05

as more of them than ever before are being caught in the act...

0:28:050:28:09

and claimed and shamed.

0:28:090:28:11

Ore Oduba presents a series which sees insurance fraudsters caught on camera.

A fraudster goes on the run after his home is raided by the police, a sportswoman's claims for loss of earnings falters at the start line and a personal injury claim falls down when CCTV footage shows the claimant remained on his feet the entire time.