You may have a fancy car and a clever plan, but that doesn’t give you ‘an easy route to securing tens of thousands of pounds from insurers’. That was the stark warning this week from Detective Constable Katie Sibley of the City of London’s insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (the FEDs, for short).
Doncaster man Mark Smith, 42, must have thought he was sitting pretty after stopping his fancy Porsche motor abruptly in front of a van owned by Doncaster Council and promptly putting in a claim for near on £100k, including car hire costs of £22k and a hefty old whack for whiplash.
He reckoned without the beagle-eyed claims hounds at the council’s insurer Zurich and the advanced forensic capabilities of the FEDs (who were able to get hold of some CCTV footage on which the villain was caught in the act of stopping very suddenly for no apparent reason! Smith – if that’s his real name – now enjoys the dubious distinction of being the first person ever to receive a criminal conviction for C4C fraud as a result of a FED investigation.
At a previous civil trial, Smith accepted that he might have been trying it on a bit with the claim, but insisted his sudden braking was simply a case of being ‘a bad driver’. In moral terms, of course, this statement may be closer to the truth than the devious Smith intended. It fails, however, to reflect his cynical disregard for the safety of other motorists and the outright fraud-lust seething in his vicious veins.
DC Sibley has clearly had plenty of time to polish up her motoring and road-related puns in preparation for this triumphant day and did not hesitate to ‘wheel out’ a few of them in announcing Smith’s comeuppance. “The fact that he was putting lives at risk,” she said, “did not put the brakes on his fraud. He wanted this money and was prepared to go the distance to get it.”
At an Old Bailey hearing on 7 March, Smith was sentenced to a six month jail term, suspended for two years and ordered to complete 140 hours of unpaid work in the community within the next year.
Let that be a warning to any one else with a fancy car and a clever plan!