Increased collaboration between police, insurance firms, law enforcement agencies and private companies, is vital if the rise in motor fraud is to be quashed effectively, according to anti-fraud firm, Asset Protection Unit (APU).
Investigators from the bespoke team, which is part of the Automotive and Insurance Solutions Group of companies, helped prevent more than £200,000 in fraudulent insurance claims in cases that came to fruition in the first two months of 2014 alone.
But APU’s Director of Investigative Services, Neil Thomas, said he has been disappointed by the lack of cross-sector collaboration he has seen in some cases, which have left fraudsters free to continue criminal activities.
He said: “For too long, the motor insurance market has been seen by criminal gangs as one which is easy to scam due to its size and because of its silo working mentality but, with the intelligence and technology available today, we need to take decisive action and not sit in our offices waiting for the fraudsters to knock on our door and give themselves up.”
Among the cases recently brought to a successful conclusion, APU investigators established that an alleged accident, which resulted in three personal injury claims totalling £54k, was actually a very low-speed impact, causing only a scratched number plate.
Another supposed accident, which led to a significant insurance claim of more than £20k, was said to have taken place at a location in Liverpool, but APU staff were able to prove the car concerned was in fact two miles away.
Thomas continued: “Drivers can easily and, often unwittingly, become part of a scam to defraud the industry out of thousands of pounds but, when this happens, they need to be confident that action will be taken.
“With criminals always looking for different ways to make easy money, it is vital that the significant resources across the public and private sectors focusing on insurance fraud in general and motor insurance in particular, collaborate more effectively to remove the threat to innocent motorists.”
As professional investigators, APU personnel are members of the Association of British Investigators (ABI), and have already signed information sharing protocols with Merseyside Police and some like-minded, forward-thinking companies, but Thomas feels the real ability of the industry to tackle fraud has yet to reach its full potential.
“Over the past few weeks, APU has successfully taken on a well-organised criminal network, resulting in the arrest of one of its key players, who has been ‘flagged up’ to the insurance industry as a threat,” said Thomas. “But I am disappointed by the lack of cross-sector sharing of data, which means this individual is still at large and profiting from his criminal activity.
“We all have competing demands to manage but the motoring public needs to have confidence that insurance companies, law enforcement agencies and private companies such as APU are doing everything they can to deny fraudsters access to our roads.”