Hard times bring out the best of British resourcefulness and creativity. Inspired by the hugely successful grass-roots Cash for Crash (C4C) movement that’s helped many hard-pressed families through short-term shortages of booze, fags and widescreen TVs, the latest craze, it seems, is Pet Harm for Profit (PH4P).

Carys Clarke, a fraud investigator with law firm Berrymans Lace Mawer announced this week that almost £2m of bogus pet insurance claims were detected last year – a big increase on around £400,000 in 2009.

How many of the hundreds of thousands of cats and dogs injured each year in the UK have actually been worked over by their owners remains unclear, but Clarke suggests the official £2m PH4P figure could be just the tip of an iceberg of animal cruelty.

Unscrupulous vets are suspected of colluding with cold-hearted pet harmers to concoct inflated bills for treatment or termination following suspicious or entirely specious injuries or illness. Alarm at the rising tide of PH4P has prompted calls for insurers to replace deceased or badly damaged pets on a like-for-like basis rather than fund repairs or replacement under owners’ supervision.

Now insurer body ABI plans to make a big list of all known pet injuries and put it on a computer somewhere so they can tell if things look dodgy.

“These sad sickos should be strung up,” noted one response to a version of this story featured in The Sun’s online edition, doubtless echoing the general feeling of our animal-loving nation.

Spare a thought, though, as the festive season approaches, for all the those of the human species whose life assurance cash-in-value will shortly trigger mysteriously terminal mishaps as depression succeeds recession.


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