By: 23 January 2019
Man who made fraudulent claims in friends’ names sentenced

A man has been sentenced after he used the personal details of his friends to make a series of fraudulent claims for motor crashes that never really happened.

Nathan O’Brien pleaded guilty to two offences of fraud by false representation, with a further five taken into consideration, after an investigation by the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED).

He was sentenced at Maidstone Magistrates Court on 9 January to 240 days in prison, suspended for two years. He must also pay a £85 victim surcharge and another £85 in court costs.

IFED worked closely with the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) during the investigation after the bureau brought O’Brien to its attention. The IFB had been communicating with insurers about suspected fraudulent claims involving vehicle crashes with similar circumstances, and was able to link a number of them to O’Brien.

It was discovered that O’Brien, using the names and addresses of his friends, had bought several insurance policies and made a number of fraudulent claims for made up crashes.

All of the claims had similar circumstances in that they involved two vehicles, often a motorbike and car, and one of the parties would take full responsibility for the collision. The claims also commonly came just days after the policy was bought, which raised further suspicions with the insurers.

O’Brien used a number of pre-paid phones for each friend he was purporting to be when insurers called to ask questions about the claim. He also involved a woman in the fraudulent claims, who pretended to be the other party involved in the collisions. She called the insurers to progress the claims, secured a hire vehicle from them, and provided details of O’Brien’s bank account for the insurers to transfer funds into for repair costs.

The woman was cautioned in November 2018 for two offences of fraud by false representation at Chatham Magistrates Court.

To substantiate the claims further, O’Brien sent the insurer old engineer reports that contained details of previous damage to his vehicles. However, a forensic vehicle inspector confirmed that some of the accounts from O’Brien and the woman about the damage sustained to the vehicles were not consistent with the engineer reports that were provided.

In total, O’Brien’s fraudulent claims amounted to approximately £15,000, including the car hire costs, repair costs and personal injury claims.

O’Brien and the woman provided no comment answers in their first interview with IFED officers, but they both fully admitted to their offences a few months later in a second interview.

His friends were also interviewed and said they were unaware that O’Brien had made fraudulent claims using their details.

Detective constable Kevin Hughes of IFED said: “O’Brien betrayed the trust of his friends and used their personal details to take out policies and make numerous fraudulent claims for personal injury and repair costs. He also caused them distress as they had to attend a police interview to be questioned about the fraudulent claims in their names.”

“As well as impacting his own friends, O’Brien’s fraudulent claims affect the public by driving up the cost of premiums for everyone who buys insurance.”

Stephen Dalton, head of intelligence at IFB, said: “When our insurer members referred this case to us our analysts and investigators were able to uncover a pattern of fraudulent behaviour by O’Brien. This allowed us to link him to more than 20 claims, some of which were made under the names of O’Brien’s so-called friends on social media, arousing further suspicion. The fact that O’Brien was willing to put his own friends at risk of being complicit in the scam without their knowledge just goes to show how far he was willing to go.”

“It’s thanks to the hard work of the insurance industry, IFED and the IFB that we’ve been able to stop O’Brien and ensure that he has seen his day in court. This should serve as fair warning to anyone else considering insurance fraud as a way to make a quick buck.”