War on insurance fraudsters

A CRACKDOWN on fraud has been launched — after a Hucknall man staged a burglary to cover up a car crash and make a fake insurance claim.

The 32-year-old man, who has not been named, has been given a caution for wasting police time and will not face further prosecution.

But frustrated police have revealed details of the case to highlight a surge in the number of drivers who lie and cheat in order to launch fraudulent insurance claims.

Ashfield officers have investigated three insurance swindles in the last fortnight alone.

A hard-hitting warning has now been issued that this sort of crime does not pay. The police say fraudsters will be traced and investigated as part of a major drive to stamp out such crime across the Dispatch district.

Hucknall’s police chief, Insp Nick Butler, blasted: “The tough financial times are no excuse for criminality.

“As with this case, if you fraudulently report a crime, you will be caught.

“Mud sticks. If you are cautioned or issued with a fine, it will feature on your criminal record.”

The Hucknall driver claimed his home had been broken into during the night of Friday August 19 or the early hours of Saturday August 20.

He said the keys to his sporty Audi S3 car had been stolen and raiders made off in the vehicle. The smashed-up car was later found on the bypass island at the junction of Nottingham Road in Hucknall.

Several officers became involved in an investigation, including detectives. CCTV footage was checked, house-to-house inquiries made and witness statements taken.

But after inconsistencies arose in the man’s stories, he was arrested, initially on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.

It was discovered that the burglary was a complete fabrication. He had made the claim to cover his tracks in an attempted insurance scam.

In fact, his uninsured friend had been driving the car and crashed it, writing it off.

Insp Butler added: “We do not take things like this lying down. Our crime-detection rate at the moment is 40% and if something happens in Hucknall, we are catching those responsible.

“When someone reports something that hasn’t happened, it is taking CID officers away from serious crimes they should be investigating and it makes our job a lot harder.”

As well as the fake burglary, a woman in her 30s claimed to have been the victim of a robbery on the Nabbs Lane recreation ground in Hucknall on Thursday August 11.

She alleged £480 had been stolen from her bag and was aiming to make an insurance claim. But the account proved false and she was slapped with an £80 fine.

The crackdown on insurance fraudsters in Hucknall is part of a wider national campaign to tackle the problem.

Figures from the Association of British Insurers show the number of fraudulent claims soared by nine per cent from April 2010 to March 2011.

It is estimated by the Association of British Insurers (ABI), that 2,500 fraudulent insurance-claims are uncovered every week in the UK.

The cost is about £2 billion a year and figures suggest insurance scams add, on average, £44 to the premium of every customer.