UK & Europe
A couple from Wishaw, North Lanarkshire, have been convicted of fraud and ordered to pay back thousands after attempting to claim that they sustained injuries so severe that they both struggled to walk and care for themselves as a result of a minor traffic collision.
The husband and wife’s claim was further undermined when CCTV footage from the bus that scraped their vehicle at a junction, proved the husband was not even in the car at the time of the accident.
Appearing at Hamilton Sheriff Court, both husband and wife, aged 58, were found to have conspired to commit fraud. Both were fined, ordered to pay thousands in legal costs and both have been left with a criminal record.
A bus owned by First Bus scraped the couple’s car while it was stationary at a road junction in Wishaw near Glasgow. The driver, subsequently proven to be a much younger individual, supplied the bus driver with a much older man’s name and contact number. Afterwards, the couple claimed that the 7mph scrape across their rear bumper had ‘thrust and thrown’ them inside their vehicle, causing injuries to their backs and necks. They claimed that they struggled with housework, personal care, bending, dressing, climbing stairs and even walking.
First Bus’s in-house claims team had immediate concerns due to the minor nature of the incident and launched an investigation. CCTV footage confirmed suspicions that the impact was no more than a scrape and therefore highly unlikely to cause any injuries.
On further inspection it was also revealed that the male passenger pursuing compensation was not even in the vehicle. CCTV shows that the driver of the car was much younger, believed to be 37 years old, whilst the claimant was 58.
It was noted that at the scene, the husband’s details were passed to the First Bus driver, indicating dishonest intent from the outset. As part of their investigation, First Bus’s in-house claims team and law firm Clyde & Co proceeded to instruct a medical expert to examine the husband. During this examination, the husband was confronted with evidence gained from the CCTV footage. In response, the husband admitted that the claim was fraudulent and that he had not been in the vehicle at the time of the collision.
The claimants subsequently admitted their claim was fraudulent, however not content to leave it there, the Sheriff requested that the case be referred for further criminal action.
Because of the blatant nature of the attempted fraud, First Bus reported the case to Police Scotland who, hugely supportive of investigating insurance fraud, recommended the case be bought before the Procurator Fiscal’s office. This led to a successful prosecution of not just the husband for his fraudulent claim, but also the wife, for supporting his fraudulent claim.
Commenting on the case, Julie Randle, First Bus’s Fraud Prevention Officer, said: “Attempted frauds against our company will not be tolerated. This was a genuine accident resulting in minor vehicle damage. However, greed took precedence, resulting in no pay out, a criminal record and significant financial repercussions.
“This case demonstrates the very real consequences of making a fraudulent claim and First Bus will take whatever steps necessary to defend itself against fraudulent claims.”
Vikki Melville, a partner in Clyde & Co’s Glasgow office, said: “We are starting to see a notable increase of this type of fraudulent claim following accidents on the road. The fraudsters think they’ve found an easy way to make money. What they don’t take into account is the sophistication of our investigations and the amount of data we have on low-speed collisions. The consequence being that a fraudulent or exaggerated claim can be a fast track to a criminal record and even prison – as demonstrated by the approach taken in English courts in particular. Achieving results like this case whilst working closely with our clients demonstrates our clients ongoing commitment to win the fight against fraud.”
Detective Superintendent David Ferry of Police Scotland said: “We take all forms of fraud seriously and any report we receive will be thoroughly investigated. Fraud, in any form, is a despicable crime and we know that fraudsters will try to exploit people and use any event to their own advantage.
“We want to ensure that people and businesses are kept safe and informed. I would encourage any person or business who has or believes they have been the victim of fraud to report the matter as soon as it happens so that it can be investigated promptly.
“We will continue to pursue those who set out to cause harm and misery to our communities to make Scotland a hostile environment for those who commit fraud.”