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Suspended sentence for fraudster who created bogus claims company

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Mercedes: Fake crash claim

A fraudster who faked a road traffic accident and invented a fictitious accident management company to facilitate a whiplash claim has been handed a suspended prison sentence.

Shajeel Malik was sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for 18 months, and 100 hours unpaid work in the community following a 10-day trial.

The claim was pursued in the name of Habib, alleging that his Mercedes struck the fictitious John West’s vehicle, causing him to suffer a whiplash type injury, and he also claimed for vehicle damage and credit hire.

Mr Malik’s fabricated company, Shifty Rental Solutions, managed and controlled the matter, according to the claim – but the addresses for both Habib and John West were false, Southwark Crown Court heard.

An initial policy payment was made on a pre-paid debit card issued by an American finance company with no apparent UK presence. However, no payment was taken due to an issue with the card and no premiums were deducted from the provided bank account, which had been hijacked.

Investigations also revealed that the Mercedes on the Shifty hire agreement was registered to a third-party company, rather than the fake accident management company.

The defendant insurer, Direct Line Group, instructing Keoghs, first defended the case as a civil matter.

Keoghs discovered that the claimant’s proof of address was a forged telephone bill, the credit card statement provided was a fake, and the invoice for repair was in the name of a fictitious garage.

It later uncovered that the bank account Shifty Rental Solutions gave for an initial damages payments traced to a company called The Law Inn.

Keoghs said Mr Malik was careful to not to leave any direct evidence of his involvement with Shifty; it was uncovered via links to the fraud by three mobile numbers.

One of these was traced to a Gumtree advertisement selling a Maserati, which was shown in an accompanying photograph to be parked outside his residential address and had been insured on a Direct Line policy in Mailk’s father’s name but over which he had control.

Further investigation linked this Maserati to another accident management company which also had the trading name of The Law Inn.

It emerged that the claimant solicitor’s files contained a complaint from a handler who could not reach anyone on Shifty Rental’s direct number. An email from Shifty suggested contacting a mobile number direct, which was the same as the one on the Gumtree advert for the Maserati and therefore traced to Mr Malik.

Finally, documents for accounts in the name The Law Inn, including the one into which proceeds of the fraud had been paid, were obtained by the prosecutor, and it was established that the accounts were controlled by Mr Malik.

The initial claim was eventually struck out when no claimant attended trial and the insurer then pursued the fraud through the criminal courts.

Sentencing, His Honour Judge Grieve QC stated that Mr Malik was the “controlling mind behind the company” and “had the gall to pursue the claim into county court, even after it had attracted suspicion”.

The judge described him as “quite brazen in instructing a firm of solicitors to represent the ‘claimant’. It was only the fact that the insurance company stood its ground that led to you being obliged not to find anyone to stand up and pretend to be Habib at Oxford County Court”.

The issue of compensation will be addressed at a later date.

Mark Stanger, head of Keoghs’ advocacy team and the prosecution counsel, said: “This verdict and sentence sends a direct message to those who would defraud insurance companies that their activities will not be accepted by the industry and will have serious consequences if brought before the courts.”

Mike Brown, head of counter fraud intelligence & disclosure at Direct Line Group, added: “This has been a long and complex investigation and we are delighted that the perpetrator of this fraud has been brought to justice.”