Insurance fraudster’s Facebook identity crisis lands them £51,000 bill
Legal Development 09 June 2023 09 June 2023
UK & Europe
A motorist’s fraudulent claim for £15,000 was thrown out after the claimant was found to have lied about a witness to the accident being independent. Crucial evidence was discovered by investigators, who found a photograph on Facebook of the claimant drinking with a close associate of the witness – who he also denied having ever met before.
Ashley Copley, 26 from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, assured lawyers that he did not know a witness who backed up his claim that an apparently minor vehicle collision had, in fact, not been his fault and had caused significant damage to his vehicle. However, investigators at Clyde & Co proved that Mr Copley was the man in the image after using the services of a facial recognition expert.
Although Copley, a hospitality worker, denied he was the man in the photo, facial recognition expert Dr Shelina Jilani was able to identify 13 points of similarity between Copley’s face and the man in the photograph using advanced technology, proving they were one and the same.
After hearing all the evidence, Deputy District Judge Ben Rose at Barnsley County Court ruled that Mr Copley’s claim was fundamentally dishonest and ordered him to pay the defendant’s costs which were assessed at £51,299.72.
Mr Copley’s claim stemmed from a vehicle collision in January 2020 on the M1 towards the A6 in Hoyland Common, South Yorkshire. While the driver of the vehicle that hit Mr Copley’s car described the impact as ‘very minor’, Mr Copley alleged he was unable to work due to injuries sustained and filed a claim valued at £15,000.
When the second driver’s insurer AXA UK became suspicious of Mr Copley’s claim, Mr Copley produced a statement from an independent witness to support his version of events. However, Clyde & Co’s investigators, representing AXA UK, uncovered evidence on social media that Mr Copley was known to the witness – a point that both Mr Copley and the witness denied.
Shortly before the case was due to be heard in court, Mr Copley discontinued his claim. However, Clyde & Co’s fraud team applied to the court for a finding that Mr Copley’s claim had been fundamentally dishonest. Mr Copley again denied he was the person in the Facebook photograph, so Clyde & Co asked Dr Jilani to examine the photo. She concluded that it was Mr Copley in the Facebook image.
Deputy District Judge Rose concluded: “I am satisfied that the claimant has been fundamentally dishonest in all aspects of his claim, except that the vehicles actually collided, every other aspect has been massaged, obfuscated and done so knowingly, in attempt to gain compensation for an accident that was his own fault.”
Elinor Willis, Legal Director at Clyde & Co said: “Mr Copley is now paying a high price for his failure to tell the truth. AXA Insurance identified, at an early stage, concerns with the case and even though the claim was relatively modest it shows that all claims will be investigated thoroughly. The lie he told about the witness being independent was shown to be entirely false and despite the facial recognition report he still maintained his claim.”
Chris Walsh, AXA Commercial Claims Director said: “We are pleased to have been able to leverage technology, along with the expertise of specialists, to secure this successful outcome for our customer.
“AXA continues to fight against insurance fraud in collaboration with our legal partners, ensuring there are consequences for fraudsters.”
The hearing took place at Barnsley County Court in December 2022.