A 39-year-old woman from Leeds has been sentenced for fraud after falsely claiming £107,000 from AXA for the non-existent flooding of her business premises.
Ruchi Dhir was given a 16 month suspended prison sentence at Leeds Crown Court and was ordered to pay £7,500 compensation after an investigation by officers from the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) found that she had lied about the commercial property claim.
On 26 December 2015, Dhir, who is from Leeds, found a large amount of stock, which was kept in a rented warehouse space, damaged by a flood. Dhir did not have insurance to cover this and instead decided to claim the stock had been damaged at her businesses premises.
Three days later Dhir phoned AXA and made a claim for £107,000 worth of stock. AXA was suspicious of the claim because on a site visit only a small amount of damaged stock could be seen and Dhir had tried to make an amendment to the policy to backdate cover for the warehouse.
AXA referred the case to IFED on 15 August 2016. During the investigation IFED spoke to the owner of the warehouse who was able to verify that the photographs that Dhir had taken of the damaged stock were taken in the warehouse store room as distinctive features such as the railings could be recognised in the picture.
Further investigation by officers led them to a company who had rented a trailer to Dhir between 4-16 January 2015. Dhir had told the rental company that she was transporting damaged stock and that she needed the trailer so that she could take it to her business address.
Detective constable Kevin Hughes, who led the investigation for the City of London Police said: “Dhir took advantage of her insurer and tried to claim a significant amount of money. Luckily they were able to recognise that this was a bogus claim and that Dhir was trying to pull the wool over their eyes.”
Judith Waterhouse, head of commercial property claims at AXA UK said: “Some might think that insurers have deep pockets and stretching the truth is acceptable. Insurance fraud is against the law and the sentence handed down in this case – albeit suspended – should act as deterrent to anyone thinking about submitting a fraudulent claim.”