Opportunistic fraudsters, such as those who make ‘slip and trip’ claims or exaggerate the value of lost or stolen items, were the focus for the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) in a week-long nationwide enforcement operation.
A total of 27 people were targeted across England and Wales between 5 and 9 November, all of whom IFED suspected had submitted a fraudulent claim to their insurer to try and make a financial gain.
This initial figure eventually rose to 32 after two interviews led to a further five suspects being identified by IFED officers.
Twenty people were interviewed, of which eight have been cautioned, while the other 12 denied the allegation and have been released under investigation. The total value of the claims made by these people against the insurance industry amounts to £261,540.
In one of the cases, a fraudster claimed that he’d been involved in a road traffic collision while on his motorcycle, which resulted in loss of earnings and required medical treatment. He would’ve received payment of £7,500, but CCTV showed that the man wasn’t in fact on his bike at the time and the claim was rejected.
Officers also interviewed a woman who bought pet insurance just hours after her cat had undergone treatment for a broken tooth and then made a claim to try and get the insurer to cover the costs.
IFED received referrals involving these types of claims from 15 insurers, including Admiral, Ageas, Allianz, AXA, Direct Line Group, Esure, Hiscox, Lloyds Banking Group, the Motor Insurance Bureau, NFU Mutual, QBE, RSA, CiSCOGlobal Solutions and W.R. Berkley Syndicate.
This follows a similar operation that IFED carried out in May 2018, which also targeted opportunistic fraudsters. It included one man who was cautioned for submitting a fraudulent personal injury claim to his insurer stating that he’d been dragged along by a bus when he tried to get on.
In reality, CCTV footage revealed his claim to be false and the man was seen getting on the next bus and sitting down, completely unharmed.
In 2019, IFED is planning three more week-long operations in order to continue to target opportunistic fraudsters and other types of insurance fraud.
Detective chief inspector Craig Mullish, acting head of IFED, said: “Opportunistic fraud is different to other types of insurance fraud, such as ‘crash for cash’ and ghost broking, in that often the claim made by the fraudster isn’t pre-mediated and hasn’t involved a high amount of planning.”
“They see a chance to make a financial gain and go through with it, completely underestimating the severity of their dishonest actions and the impact it has on the cost of insurance premiums, which become higher for everyone.
“We’re confident that these week long operations will send a clear and forceful message to anyone who is thinking of making a fraudulent claim and deter them from doing so in the future.”