A special insurance fraud police unit has foiled an attempt to use an internet image of a gaping wound to turn a paper cut that required just a sticking plaster into a £500 claim.
The 28-year-old Penarth man has admitted to making a bogus compensation claim using images of a wound downloaded from the web to try and convince his insurer he had suffered a serious cut.
Fight back - latest on scams
Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department
The 28-year-old man was arrested by the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) and later cautioned for committing fraud by false representation.
The fraudster had told his insurer, RSA, he had suffered a serious injury at the DW Sports & Fitness gym, submitting the online images to support his £500 claim. In reality, it was a paper cut that only required treatment with a small plaster.
Fight back - latest on scams
Dave Whelan, owner of DW Sports & Fitness and chairman of Wigan FC said: "As a company we are shocked at the levels this man has sunk to in using another person's injury to make an insurance claim."
The fraudster had his collar felt because of cool detective work from insurer RSA. After reviewing the details the insurer referred the case on to IFED for investigation, and soon after detectives travelled to South Wales to make the arrest.
John Beadle UK counter fraud manager at RSA said: "RSA takes fraud very seriously and has invested heavily in systems and controls in order to detect those that might be tempted to commit fraud, in order that we can protect the interests of our honest customers.
"This case is a good example of those controls working effectively and of our excellent partnership with the newly formed Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department."
Head of IFED, DCI Dave Wood, said: "IFED is sending out a clear message that insurance fraud in all its forms will not be tolerated, wherever it has been committed."
"There is still a public perception that making bogus claims to insurance companies about accidents, ill-health or stolen property is somehow acceptable. IFED making arrests South Wales is evidence of how committed we are to changing this culture."
IFED was set-up with funding from the insurance industry to combat an area of criminality valued at £3bn per year, working out at £50 per policy holder.
- 1. Land banking
Land banking involves plots of land offered for sale, often online, with the promise of sizable returns when planning permission is approved for housing or other development. Yet often the land is located in areas protected from development by planning law.</p>
The companies involved soon disappear with investors' money and as the firms are not protected by the Financial Services Authority, their funds are not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme</p>
- 2. Money mule
Fraudsters recruit unknowing accomplices through email under the guise of offering employment, seeking a personal favour, or through internet shopping sites. The recruits are persuaded into receiving what are essentially fraudulent payments and then passing funds on.</p>
The 'mules' are frequently offered a small financial incentive to encourage involvement and face difficulties in proving their innocence when the fraud is discovered.</p>
- 3. Carbon credit fraud
The scams claim to offer people the chance to profit from carbon credits. Under regulations that permit businesses to emit a tonne of CO2 – the companies claim to offer investment in green projects like a forestry scheme or a solar panel project, which generates carbon credits that are then sold on to heavy industry.</p>
A flashy brochure or website tells of a reliable 'government-backed' scheme which provides reliable returns for investors. Such a scheme doesn't exist however – a reality investors only discovered when they have parted with their cash and the company is untraceable. As with land banking, fraudulent companies are not covered by the FSA so victims have no course for recompense</p>
- 4. HMRC phishing scam
Receiving an email from the taxman saying you are owed a payment may seem like a nice surprise, but it is actually from fraudsters trying to relieve you of your cash instead.</p>
The emails provide a "click-through link" to a cloned replica of the HMRC website. The recipient is then asked to provide their credit or debit card details - all the information the criminals need to clear your account, and sell on your personal details.</p>
- 5. Disappearing loan scam
This scam targets vulnerable people who are in financial difficulty and unable to access credit through regular channels like overdrafts and credit cards.</p>
The fraudsters advertise loans and those that sign up are asked to pay an upfront 'arrangement' fee of around £60-£70 fee before the loan is approved. Borrowers pay the fee only for the 'loan providers' to disappear without a trace.</p>
- 6. Crash for cash scams
Insurer Direct Line reported a hike in the number of 'crash for cash' scams last year – where fraudsters fake accidents by making unnecessary emergency stops at busy roundabouts or slip roads, forcing motorists to crash into them.</p>
They then make bogus claims to the innocent motorist's insurer, often including fictitious injuries and passengers.</p>
- 7. Driving school scams
Learner drivers have been taken for ride by being unknowingly taught by trainee instructors. An investigation by the AA found up to 27,000 extra driving tests have been failed in the last year because one in 10 learner drivers are unwittingly taught by an instructor they do not know is learning on the job.</p>
- 8. One man mail scam
July saw the arrest of a Leicester postman who stole £46,686 worth of mail over two-and-a-half years. Yogeshbhai Patel, 38, was jailed for two years for stealing mail including 2,000 DVDs and 2,250 games along with CDs and other electrical equipment. He intercepting the valuable packages and spent the money on living a luxury lifestyle including helicopter rides and a trip to Las Vegas.</p>
- 9. Smart meter scam
The Trading Standards Institute reported over 200 cases where elderly homeowners have been targeted by telephone cold callers, purporting to be from their energy supplier and offering energy saving devices which could cut their bills by 40%.</p>
The TSI tested the devices in homes where owners had fallen for the scam, only to find they both failed to satisfy electrical safety standards or deliver any tangible energy savings.</p>
- 10. Thermal camera fraud
Thermal cameras that track ATM pin numbers are the latest weapon in their arsenal and US scientists have warned it is the next threat for this form of crime. Researchers at the University of California at San Diego found that up to 45 seconds after a person types their pin code into an ATM machine or door entry pad the numbers and even the sequence are still readable by thermal cameras.</p>