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LV= and esure smash ‘crash for cash’ fraud ring

Press release: 01/12/2014

A fraud ring based in West Yorkshire has been smashed as the perpetrators were given prison sentences after staging car accidents in order to claim compensation from their insurers.

Crash for cash fraud is when one or more individuals involve themselves willingly in a road traffic accident in an attempt to gain financially, often claiming for injuries such as whiplash, with additional pay-outs to compensate for loss of car or lost earnings.

Abdul Jamil aged 47 from Bradford, claimed that as he was driving his taxi along Brudenell Road in Leeds, a car insured by LV= pulled out from a side road and drove into the side of his moving vehicle. Jamil claimed he had two passengers in the taxi at the time of the incident, Shamila Saleem aged 47, and Farhana Kazami, aged 42, both also from Bradford. All three tried to claim compensation from LV= for injuries, and Jamil tried to claim compensation for vehicle repairs and storage, as well as for a hire vehicle. Had the claims been successful in court it would have cost LV= in the region of £145,000.

The case was investigated by LV=’s claims crime prevention team as there were a number of factors that made it suspicious. This included the alleged accident happening shortly after the policy was taken out and no police involvement. Furthermore when a forensic engineer examined the two vehicles, he concluded that the taxi had been hit while stationary, which was inconsistent with the alleged circumstances.

Further investigation revealed a number of similarities between this case and one that was being brought against insurer esure. Both cases involved a side-on collision with a taxi in very similar circumstances and esure also had suspicions about the claim. The two insurers worked together with their solicitors Horwich Farrelly and found that the fraudsters were linked to another five similar car insurance claims.

After the investigation, LV= and esure turned down the respective claims on the grounds that the accidents had been deliberately staged. At this point, the claimants issued proceedings against LV= and esure for their losses and the case went to trial on 19 May this year. Prior to the hearing one of the claimants, Farhana Kazami, contacted LV=’s solicitors, Horwich Farrelly and said that that the accident had never taken place and all claims were fraudulent. The other claimants maintained the accidents were genuine and gave evidence at the trial but the judge ruled in the insurers’ favour.

The insurers then began proceedings against the claimants for contempt of court. All of the claimants, apart from Kazami, maintained their innocence up until the day of the hearing on Wednesday 26 November when they eventually admitted their guilt and accepted the 33 charges jointly brought against them.

On Friday 28 November the claimants were all given custodial sentences. The two main claimants in the LV= case, Abdul Jamil and Shamila Saleem, were each sentenced to eight months in prison. Faranha Kazami was given a twelve week suspended sentence in recognition of her assistance in the case. Mohammed Adris Aziz, the main claimant in the esure case, was sentenced to six months in prison.

This is a case where organised criminals were deliberately staging accidents, putting themselves and the safety of innocent motorists at risk, in order to defraud insurers of thousands of pounds. Fraud is not a victim-less crime and the cost of paying fraudulent claims drives up the cost of car insurance for all. LV= takes a hard line on fraud, investigates all suspicious claims and pushes for the toughest sentences for those who are prosecuted.

John O’Roarke, Managing Director of LV= car insurance

Where we have evidence of fraud, we will take steps to pursue the perpetrators whether this is working with law enforcement or using the powers of the court, be this acting alone or in collaboration with our industry peers.

Matt Gilham, Head of Financial Crime, esure

A very clear message has been sent to potential insurance fraudsters with this case and LV= and esure should be commended for their commitment to seeing justice done. Despite the numerous evasive steps taken by the claimants over more than five years, LV= and esure have shown that if individuals are intent on making fraudulent claims, they will pursue them and ensure they face justice – no matter how long it takes. This is a philosophy fully supported by Horwich Farrelly with a high success rate on cases taken to court. Through the sentences handed down, the judiciary has also demonstrated that it will not tolerate contempt of any sort and particularly in respect of fraudulent insurance claims.

Ronan McCann, fraud partner at Horwich Farrelly

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For further information please contact:

Vanessa Chance, vanessa.chance@lv.com, 0208 256 6996/ 07947 380074


LV=

LV= employs 6,000 people and serves over 5.5 million customers with a range of financial products. We are the UK's largest friendly society and a leading financial mutual.

When we started in 1843 our goal was to give financial security to more than just a privileged few and for many decades we were most commonly associated with providing a method of saving to people of modest means. Today we follow a similar purpose, helping people to protect and provide for the things they love, although on a much larger scale and through a wide range of financial services including insurance, investment and retirement products.

We offer our services direct to consumers, as well as through IFAs and brokers, and through strategic partnerships with organisations such as ASDA, Nationwide Building Society and a range of trade unions.

Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. LVFS is a member of the ABI, the AFM and ILAG. Registered address: County Gates, Bournemouth BH1 2NF.