THE PHANTOM MENACE: Middle man fraudster jailed for orchestrating fake passenger crash claims
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A man has been jailed for arranging a series of fraudulent personal injury claims involving phantom passengers, targeting various insurers including LV= General Insurance.
Martell Randall, 30, of Tangley Grove, Wandsworth, was sentenced to six months imprisonment at Kingston Crown Court on Wednesday 8 September 2021, for conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation. Randall was linked to several false claims involving six collisions, which could have potentially cost some of the UK’s biggest insurance companies over £25,500, as well as further losses through claims that were declined by the insurers because they believed them to be fraudulent.
Detective Constable Peter Gartland, from the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED), said:
“In December 2016, Norfolk Constabulary referred data downloaded from Randall’s phone for a separate investigation to IFED, suspecting that the contents of the phone proved his links to other forms of criminality.
“With the help of research conducted by the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB), IFED officers were able to prove that Randall had organised false claims by adding phantom passengers to genuine road traffic collisions.
“Randall and his associates exploited legitimate accidents and the claims of honest customers for their own financial gain. The intuition of the insurers fortunately meant that many of these claims were rejected, and Randall has been rightfully punished for his attempts to defraud these companies.”
A review of messages on Randall’s phone revealed that he was supplying an individual named ‘Steve’ with personal details of associates, including names, addresses, bank details, telephone numbers and photographic identification. These details were used to submit late, bogus personal injury claims, with claimants appearing to be complicit and aware of the deception. Some of the claimants named in the correspondence also featured in multiple claims submitted to various insurers.
Randall sent further messages to fraudulent claimants on how to behave during medical examinations.
Statements taken from the original claimants who were involved in the genuine incidents confirmed they had never heard of the individuals alleging to have been passengers in their vehicles at the time of the collision.
In July 2014, a customer at another insurer reported that he had parked his Volkswagen Golf near a relative’s home. When he got out of the car and walked away, it was struck by a van which had reversed into it. By November 2014, the expenses associated with this case had been settled and the file was closed by the insurer. Over a year later, Zurich was notified that a man had submitted a claim for personal injury as a passenger in the Volkswagen Golf. A further claim notification was sent to the insurer two months later from a woman who also alleged that she was a passenger in the car at the time of the accident. The owner of the Volkswagen Golf confirmed that he did not know either of the claimants and that no one was in the stationary vehicle when it was struck.
As well as latching onto legitimate claims, Randall went to the extent of inventing a collision, involving an unknowing member of the public. In August 2015, an insurance company received notification that the same woman who said she was involved in the 2014 incident, had been a passenger in a vehicle that was hit by one of their clients. She said the incident happened in Oxford. The insurer approached the client about the accident, who confirmed she had never been to the city nor had she been involved in a collision. The customer confirmed that their vehicle had been parked at home at the time of the alleged incident. The woman who submitted the false claim had also failed to inform her own insurer of the accident.
Further investigations by IFED found that Randall was linked to four more incidents, which had been exploited to make fraudulent claims, targeting three other insurers, including LV= General Insurance. When suspicions were raised to the insurer, its fraud team identified a series of linked claims and patterns of behaviour, which were also referred for investigation.
Stephen Dalton, Head of Intelligence and Investigations at the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB), said:
“Insurance fraud is not a victimless crime. It comes at a great financial cost for honest consumers. We're pleased to hear that our work to help identify this fraudulent activity has supported the City of London Police in being able to bring this individual to justice. We hope this serves as a clear warning to anyone thinking of making fraudulent insurance claims that they will get caught.”
Matt Crabtree, Head of Financial Crime Strategy at LV= General Insurance, said:
“This is a great outcome and proves that insurance fraud is not acceptable and we will take action to investigate suspicious activity. This is another unfortunate example where victims of identity fraud have been targeted by organised criminals who use their data to pursue fraudulent claims, and the industry has an important role to play to stop fraud in its tracks.
“Carrying out due diligence and ‘know your client’ checks by claimant’s solicitors and claims management companies is part of that important process, to help support insurers and spot fraudulent behaviour so that we can all protect innocent victims.”