DNA evidence foils insurance fraud scammer

A TEACHER is behind bars after former police detectives working for Bexhill-based insurer Hastings Direct helped secure a conviction for insurance fraud.

The 41-year-old, known as Mr M from Worcestershire, claimed that his £1,500 Volvo had been stolen, when in fact he had crashed the vehicle after a night out drinking. When he put in a claim to Hastings Direct for the car’s theft, the company investigated.

The local insurance retailer employs a team of former police officers to investigate any claim which it suspects may be fraudulent and investigators became suspicious after interviewing the teacher.

A subsequent inspection of his car revealed extensive accident damage, but investigators saw no signs of damage expected in relation to theft. Hastings Direct asked Worcestershire police to investigate further and forensic examination of the car determined that Mr M’s DNA was evident on the car’s air bag, proving he had been driving at the time of the accident impact.

Paul Priestley, head of counter fraud at Hastings Direct thanked the police and the courts for securing the conviction, adding: “There is a perception that insurance fraud does not hurt anyone, but in fact it hurts everyone financially. On average every car driver in the UK pays over £44 more for their car insurance just because of fraud.

“We heavily invested in our anti-fraud techniques. We believe that this investment is necessary to ensure we are at the forefront of the industry fighting fraud to protect our honest customers.”

Hastings Direct won a prestigious industry award for fighting fraud using the same technology that was used to track Osama Bin Laden.

Last year insurance fraud cost the UK £1.9 billion.

Phil Bird, acting director of the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) gave this warning to would be fraudsters: “The industry is closing the net on all types of insurance fraud, including cases like this where the attempt is opportunistic in nature.

“This conviction sends a clear message to anyone attempting to mislead their insurer. We encourage the public to report information about those involved in any type of insurance fraud to our free and confidential Cheatline on 0800 422 0421, or report it online: www.insurancefraudbureau.org/report.”