FLIGHT OF FANCY: Woman sentenced for fake missed flight claims
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A woman from South London has been sentenced for attempting to steal £55,872.21 through fake travel insurance claims.
Taleka White, 32, of Broad Green Avenue, Croydon, was sentenced to twenty-two months imprisonment suspended for twenty-one months, a four-month electronically monitored curfew and twenty sessions of rehabilitation activity at Southwark Crown Court on Friday 23 April 2021. White targeted several insurers over a period of three years with false claims to cover missed flights. If all claims had been paid out, the fraudster could have inflicted a potential loss of close to £100,000 on insurers including Collinson, ERV and tifgroup.
Detective Constable Kim Negus, from the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED), said:
“White has not only acted deceitfully through her fraudulent claims and forged documents, but also through her lack of cooperation and denial of any wrongdoing during our investigation. She failed to comment when presented with the incriminating evidence gathered by the IFED team in an attempt to avoid punishment for her crimes.
“Thankfully, the insurers raised their suspicions with Action Fraud, who passed the case to IFED, and our investigation was able to prove her guilt before additional claims were paid out.
“This type of collaborative work between the insurance industry and law enforcement reflects the fact that insurance fraud is taken seriously and offenders will be rightfully punished – a stark warning to anyone considering exploiting their next holiday to fraudulently claim through their travel insurance.”
White repeatedly implemented the same formula for the fake travel insurance claims, alleging that her vehicle had broken down on the way to the airport to catch a return flight home and she had therefore missed the flight. In order to substantiate her claims, White forged documents, including e-tickets and invoices from mechanics.
IFED commenced investigations in December 2017, finding evidence that White also used a fake driving licence as proof of identification whilst cashing a cheque for a claim worth over £4,000. This fake ID and additional boarding passes were uncovered during a house search. Prepaid bank cards were also taken out in different names, with statements showing money paid out to White from these accounts.
The airlines involved confirmed that the bookings did not exist, proving that White was never a passenger on the flights she claimed to have ‘missed’.
Mathew Crawford-Thomas, Financial Crime Manager at Collinson, said:
“Today’s ruling is an excellent result in the fight against travel insurance fraud. The case demonstrates that Collinson alongside other travel insurance companies will not take fraud lying down. Collinson remains committed in the support of its legitimate customers. It does so by investing time and resources as well as collaborating with the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) and other fraud agencies and insurers, in the fight to catch insurance fraud criminals. Collinson is better equipped today than ever before in the prevention and detection of fraud, it has recently launched an Insurance Fraud Detection (IFD) initiative predicting what fraud looks like, taking its own data and industry-wide fraud data to catch these criminals.”
A spokesperson for tifgroup said:
“This is an excellent result for tifgroup and the industry as a whole. The case shows the benefit of industry wide co-operation and sends a message to those fraudsters who believe travel insurers are a soft touch. tifgroup remains committed to protecting our genuine customers, whilst at the same time detecting those criminals attempting to take advantage of our good intentions. The industry working together to tackle fraud is essential to protect customers in the long term and we hope that this conviction gives the market more confidence that these crimes are taken seriously by the authorities.”