Published: 10:09, 12 January 2019
| Updated: 10:26, 12 January 2019
A man has been accused of "driving up the cost of premiums for everyone who buys insurance", after using his friends' details to make fraudulent claims worth around £15,000, a court heard.
Nathan O’Brien pleaded guilty to two offences of fraud by false representation, with a further five taken into consideration, after inventing more than 20 fake collisions.
The 25-year-old of Russet Walk, Greenhithe, was sentenced to 240 days in prison, suspended for two years, at Maidstone Magistrates Court on Wednesday.
O'Brien made claims involving two vehicles - often a motorbike and a car - for which one of the parties would take full responsibility.
He was helped by a woman who pretended to be the other motorist involved, calling insurers to progress the claims.
The claims regularly came just days after each policy had been purchased, raising suspicions with insurers.
They were substantiated with old engineer reports with details of previous vehicle damage, which a forensic vehicle inspector later deemed inconsistent with some of the accounts provided.
O'Brien also used pre-paid phones for each of the friends he was impersonating, using their names and addresses to buy the policies.
The woman, 25, got a hire vehicle from the companies, and provided details of O'Brien's bank account so insurers could transfer funds for repairs.
She was cautioned in November 2018 for two offences of fraud by false representation at Medway Magistrates Court.
The City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) worked closely with the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) after bringing O'Brien to its attention.
IFB had been in contact with insurers about suspected fraudulent claims involving vehicle crashes with similar circumstances, and was able to link a number of them to O’Brien.
O’Brien and the woman provided no comment answers in their first interview with IFED officers, but both fully admitted to their offences in a second interview a few months later.
Alongside his sentence, O'Brien must also pay a £85 victim surcharge and another £85 in court costs.
Detective constable Kevin Hughes of the IFED said: "O’Brien betrayed the trust of his friends and used their personal details to take out policies and make numerous fraudulent claims for personal injury and repair costs.
"He also caused them distress as they had to attend a police interview to be questioned about the fraudulent claims in their names.
"As well as impacting his own friends, O’Brien’s fraudulent claims affect the public by driving up the cost of premiums for everyone who buys insurance."
Stephen Dalton, Head of Intelligence at IFB, said: "The fact that O’Brien was willing to put his own friends at risk of being complicit in the scam without their knowledge just goes to show how far he was willing to go.
"It’s thanks to the hard work of the insurance industry, IFED and the IFB that we’ve been able to stop O’Brien and ensure that he has seen his day in court.
"This should serve as fair warning to anyone else considering insurance fraud as a way to make a quick buck."