Six men, including a solicitor and credit hire organisation owner, have been jailed for a total of 13 and a half years after working together in their professional roles to commit car insurance fraud.
The men, all from Preston, were found guilty at Liverpool Crown Court for conspiracy to defraud by false representation after defrauding their victims of £426,000. The case is the first City of London Police Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) prosecution involving solicitors.
The criminality first came to light in September 2012, when Nadir Suleman, aged 31, made a claim on behalf of his wife, after her Mini Cooper fell from a ramp when it was being repaired. The car was written off and Suleman, a qualified solicitor working at Faleys Solicitors in Blackburn, submitted a claim to NIG Insurance via Farleys, bypassing Farleys’ company procedures.
In addition to the claim for the Mini Cooper, Suleman further claimed for solicitors’ fees and the hire of a vehicle from Matrix Car Hire, which was controlled by Arif Patel, aged 33.
It was later found that the hire vehicle was being advertised for sale at a car dealership in Kent. Enquiries found that neither the dealership nor the new buyer knew anything about Patel and Suleman. NIG queried the claim and referred the case to IFED in April 2013.
On the 26 March 2014 Suleman and Patel were arrested at their home addresses. Evidence was seized from Suleman’s house which showed he was involved in a number of fraudulent medical insurance claims. Patel also had a number of fraudulent invoices which had been altered to show treatments which had never been given to patients. Their phones were confiscated by officers and Whatsapp conversations found on them, began to show the size of the organised criminal network involved.
On 22 May 2014, officers arrested Nadim Iqbal (aged 28), at Dylan Nair Solicitors, where he was working as a paralegal. A search of his desk found falsified medical reports which had apparently been requested by Farleys Solicitors.
Iqbal also had several incriminating photographs of invoices on his phone, one showing an invoice and a Dylan Nair cheque for £3,000 made payable to Alex Butler (aged 29). When officers searched the boot of Iqbal’s car they found eight claim files for road traffic accidents, a number of these files appeared unusual and one of them being for a client linked to Plus One Medical which Dylan Nair had no trading relationship with.
When officers investigated Plus One Medical, they found that fraudulent claims were being made. Further investigation into the cheque made payable to Butler led officers to Wasim Iqbal (aged 27), who was employed by Eastway Solicitors as a trainee solicitor. Wasim Iqbal was found to be a close friend of Butler who was the director of Plus One Medical. The pair were arrested on 7 August 2014 and officers found a bundle of fraudulent Plus One Medical invoices on Wasim Iqbal’s desk at Eastway Solicitors. Butler’s computer and phone were seized and later examination of these items showed them to be making fake medical claims.
Further examination of Suleman and Patel’s phones led detectives to arrest Aadiel Salya (aged 29) in February 2015. His phone and computer were seized and officers found that he was a key player in ReplaceMyCar; a fraudulent hire care company that Suleman and Patel had been naming when they had been making false claims.
Head of the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department, Detective Inspector Oliver Little said: “This is a groundbreaking case for the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department; we have been investigating these solicitors and their associates for a number of years, working tirelessly with the insurance industry, Lancashire Police and the solicitors firms involved to ensure that these men were finally brought to justice.
“These men abused their professional roles, betrayed their employers and exploited the insurance industry for their own monetary gain. Today they are facing the consequences of their greed and these sentences should help to deter other professionals from pursuing a criminal path”.
A representative from Farleys Solicitors said: “We would like to thank City of London Police for their painstaking work in bringing Mr Suleman and his co-conspirators to justice. As a solicitor, Mr Suleman was required to conduct himself with integrity and to the highest professional standards. Instead, he conspired with others to embark on a complex fraud, letting down his clients, the good name of Farleys and the profession.
“We have ensured that no client has suffered any financial loss as a result of his conduct which has been reported to the Solicitors Regulation Authority who will now take steps to remove him from the Solicitors Roll”.