BRICKS & FRAUDSTER: Construction company secretary sentenced for fraudulent insurance claim
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The company secretary of a family-run construction and maintenance firm has been sentenced for making a fraudulent insurance claim. The claim could have inflicted a potential loss of over £5,000 to one of the UK’s biggest insurers.
Anthony Dowson, 31, of Littleton Road, Salford, was sentenced to six months imprisonment, suspended for twelve months and eighty hours of unpaid work on Thursday 11 February 2021 at Manchester Crown Court, for Conspiracy to Commit Fraud by False Representation. The case was referred to the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) for investigation, after the insurer, Direct Line Group, became suspicious of a claim submitted on the company’s public liability policy.
Acting Detective Sergeant Adam Maskell, from the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department, said:
“Dowson shamelessly manipulated his role in his family’s business to try defraud his insurer out of thousands of pounds. He deliberately damaged property and presented fake documents to substantiate the claim; however, his lies were poorly-constructed, and cracks soon began to show.
“To many this may appear to be a victimless crime, but it certainly is not. Crimes like this lead to law abiding members of the public suffering, with the latest figures indicating that insurance fraud raises the average household’s premiums by £50 per year.
“Direct Line Group were right to act on their suspicions, and it is this kind of collaborative work between the industry and law enforcement that bolsters the fight against economic crime.”
In July 2016, Dowson’s firm submitted a claim to Direct Line Group for damage caused during works at an address in Salford.
The claim involved the replacement of a boiler, after an employee of Dowson’s company supposedly drilled through a pipe whilst laying new flooring for a customer. Dowson provided a report to Direct Line Group which he alleged was from a local plumbing company. The report deemed the boiler a total loss and estimated a cost of around £2,000 to replace the appliance. Eight months later, the insurer was informed that the replacement of the boiler had been arranged, receiving various invoices from the same company totalling £2,690. Further invoices were sent through the following month, now claiming that the replacement amounted to £5,020.
Investigations into this claim raised a number of issues. The phone numbers listed for the plumbing company were found to be associated with Dowson’s mother and brother, whilst examination of the invoices identified that these were fraudulent and had been created by the accused. Further checks exposed that the ‘customer’ was in fact Dowson’s father, and that the address where the incident took place was the same address to which the family’s construction company was registered.
A statement was provided by an employee from the plumbing company, who confirmed that they did not complete the boiler replacement as claimed by Dowson; however, someone from the company had previously attended the property to assess the boiler, concluding that it was faulty and would need to be replaced.
Mike Brown, Head of Counter Fraud of Direct Line Group, said:
"At Direct Line Group, we’re on it to detect and deter as much fraud as possible. Across our business we have highly skilled investigators who are working continuously with intelligence and our sophisticated data analysis programmes to crack down on any fraudulent claims.
“We work with all law enforcement agencies to assist them in preparing cases for criminal prosecution. Successful prosecutions like this one protects the wider public and enables us to protect the premiums of our innocent customers. We are delighted that the perpetrator of this fraud has been brought to justice, the sentence should serve as a stark warning to others that insurance fraud is not a victimless crime and harsh sentences will be sought in support of DLG zero tolerance approach to insurance fraud.”