A gang of crash-for-cash fraudsters who couldn’t get their story straight when questioned by LV= and police have been sentenced.
Arnold Flanagan, Levi Ireland, Jamie Howard and Thomas Johnson were recently sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court, after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.
The men said they had been involved in a collision between two vehicles in 2016, but their insurance claims highlighted existing links between the group, and a City of London Police Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) investigation revealed conflicting accounts of what happened.
LV= became suspicious when the email address used by Flanagan to take out his insurance policy on his Fiat Punto appeared on Ireland’s claim for a crash involving his Mazda and a Fiat Punto.
Flanagan took out an insurance policy with LV= on 30 June 2016, but cancelled it more than three weeks later on 23 July, saying that his Fiat Punto had been stolen. The alleged accident supposedly took place on 21 July. Furthermore, Flanagan called LV= again to report the crash, which had allegedly happened two days before he told the insurer that his car had been stolen.
Subsequent injury claims were made by Howard and Johnson, who said they were passengers in Flanagan’s car.
LV=’s initial concerns due to the duplication of the email address on Levi Ireland and Flanagan’s documents, led to them making additional enquiries.
At this point, social media links between Johnson, Ireland, Howard and Flanagan were uncovered. Despite this, Ireland denied knowing Flanagan to his insurer. LV=’s concerns led to them rejecting the personal injury claims made by Ireland, Howard and Johnson, and referring the case to IFED for investigation.
IFED found that Flanagan had worked for the claims management referral company that was the one also instructing the solicitors acting for Ireland, Howard and Johnson.
All four suspects were subsequently traced and interviewed under caution by IFED on the allegation of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.
There were a number of discrepancies between the accounts given. While Ireland did admit to knowing Flanagan, he said it was by chance that Flanagan and Howard had collided into the back of his car.
In contrast, Flanagan and Howard said their car had broken down and they phoned Ireland to come and tow them away. Flanagan said Ireland’s car had collided with theirs three times while being towed, though Howard said just one collision occurred.
Johnson wasn’t a passenger, but in his interview, he claimed that Flanagan offered him the chance to make some money if he agreed to say that he had been part of a car crash involving Flanagan, Ireland and Howard.
Johnson agreed initially, but soon he changed his mind and asked Flanagan to leave him out of the fraud.
When interviewed again, Flanagan admitted that he had applied for the LV= insurance fraudulently as he didn’t have a driving licence, but maintained there had been no conspiracy to commit fraud in response of the claims submitted by the group.
At Liverpool Crown Court on 17 June 2019, Flanagan pleaded guilty to the conspiracy on the first day of his trial. Howard changed his plea mid-trial to guilty. Johnson and Levi Ireland had previously pleaded guilty before the trial began.
Detective sergeant Matthew Hussey of IFED said: “This was a complex case with conflicting accounts from the defendants that ultimately led to their downfall.”
“Our investigation, with the cooperation of LV=, was able to demonstrate that these criminals were out to try and profit from a fraudulent insurance claim. Ultimately, their actions have resulted in serious consequences for all of them. Insurance fraud increases the payments for innocent members of the public: it is not a victimless crime.”
Clare Lunn, fraud director at LV= General Insurance, commented: “It’s encouraging to see these opportunist fraudsters receiving jail time and driving home the fact that fraudsters will not get away with trying to pull the wool over our eyes. Insurance exists to put things right for genuine customers when they go wrong, not to be abused by criminals looking to make a few quid for Christmas. LV= General Insurance takes a firm line on defending any fraud we detect and we will always push for the strongest possible sentences.”
IFED targeted several fraudsters over the summer for making fraudulent claims on their car insurance.
The police action followed referrals from Mulsanne Insurance and targeted a total of eight people from across England, including Bedfordshire, Birmingham, London and Manchester.