IFED uncovers £300,000 fraud

An insurance fraudster from South Wales has been sentenced after he tried use fake invoices as part of a £300,000 insurance claim for damage to two catering vans.

The case was passed to detectives in the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) at the City of London Police when investigators for NFU Mutual suspected false invoices had been provided to them.

Richard Lewis pleaded guilty to fraud and was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, and was also ordered to repay £37,464 in costs to NFU Mutual, pay £2,800 in court costs and pay £100 victim surcharge.

When a tractor destroyed his two catering vans, he claimed that the two vans and equipment were worth in excess of £167,000 and said his lost earnings were in the region of £150,000.

Due to the high value of the claims, NFU Mutual appointed a claims investigator, but when he went to check the damaged vehicles, Lewis stated he had already sold them to a local scrap metal dealer. Furthermore, the vehicle identification numbers (VINs) on the vans were completely destroyed by the fire.

When asked to provide invoices from when he bought the vans, he provided false documents. When confronted he claimed instead he bought the vans from a traveller, but he was no longer able to get in touch with him to verify this. At this point, the details were passed to IFED detectives to investigate.

IFED detective constable Aman Taylor, said, ‘It’s clear that Lewis lied and went to great lengths to try and support his very large compensation claim. Anyone who has supposedly invested over £150,000 in equipment would have surely kept receipts, invoices or had some kind of record to show their true value.

‘Yet Lewis was unable to provide any documents or evidence that supported his claims that the two vans were worth as much as he claimed so he decided to provide fake documents instead. His actions were not just dishonest, but they were also illegal and this should serve as a warning to anyone to think twice before making false insurance claims.’

Commenting on the case, Rob Spiegelhalter, fraud manager at NFU Mutual, added, ‘As a mutual insurer, being tough on fraud and the causes of fraud helps us to protect our members and reduce the cost of premiums. In this case, with the help of the Investigation Services team at Cunningham Lindsey, we were able to assist the IFED investigation and expose claims fraud against one of our members.

‘As this case shows, fraud is not a victimless crime and we believe the court’s decision sends a strong message to those who might be tempted to commit insurance fraud.’