From supermarket to criminal court: Phantom passenger shopped!

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From supermarket to criminal court: Phantom passenger shopped!

Published 2 November 2020

Our Counter Fraud team worked collaboratively with Aviva to pursue a criminal sanction against a phantom passenger claiming personal injury and associated losses.  Birmingham Crown Court found Ryan Fenton guilty of fraudulent misrepresentation and sentenced him to an 8 month custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months.  He was also ordered to undertake 100 hours of voluntary work and pay £2,000 in costs.    

Mr Fenton, of Quinton, Birmingham, claimed that on 4th May 2017, an Aviva customer had collided with the vehicle in which he was sitting, stationary in a large supermarket’s car park.  Whilst Aviva’s customer did not deny a collision, she maintained that Mr. Fenton was not in the vehicle; in fact, no-one was.  Having waited after the collision to exchange details, Aviva’s customer saw Mr. Fenton walking towards his car.  At that point, they exchanged details and Mr. Fenton requested they settle the costs of repairing the damage privately.     

Five months later, Mr. Fenton lodged a claim for personal injury basing his claim on a medical report, in which he described being thrown forwards and backwards as a result of the collision.  He also told the medical expert that he had moderate neck, right shoulder and back pain for three months, and shock and driver anxiety for five months.   He allegedly took two days off work as a result of the accident and could not visit the gym for one week.  All of the alleged symptoms, however, had vanished at the time of his medical examination.  Mr. Fenton was claiming up to £5,000 in compensation.   

Acknowledging their customer’s honest version of events, Aviva instructed our Counter fraud team who concluded there was enough evidence to formally plead fraud against Mr. Fenton.  Within two weeks of doing so, Mr. Fenton, via his solicitors, asked to discontinue his claim in full.      

Based on Mr. Fenton’s deception regarding his involvement, the matter was referred to the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (“IFED”), who decided to pursue the matter further. 

On 25th September 2020, Birmingham Crown Court found that he was guilty of the offence of fraudulent misrepresentation and passed sentence accordingly.    

Richard Hiscocks, Director of Motor and Casualty Claims at Aviva, welcomed the outcome, saying: “We will always listen to our customers, and where there is concern that a claim is not genuine, we will work with our partners such as DAC Beachcroft to investigate. And, where we find evidence of fraud, we will not hesitate to refer to the authorities. In Mr Fenton’s case, this means he now has a criminal record.  This tale of opportunistic greed underscores the need for the forthcoming whiplash reforms, which should remove the easy access to compensation for minor injuries, which encourages some people to turn a small accident into a big lie.”

This is an excellent example of the right case not needing a formal  decision in the civil courts before specialists such as IFED pursue the matter further.  The case was widely reported in the press, with the Insurance Times detailing the following:        

https://www.insurancetimes.co.uk/news/birmingham-man-sentenced-for-fraudulent-personal-injury-claim-against-aviva/1434741.article

Our counter fraud team deals with cases like this on a regular basis. For more information or advice, please contact one of our experts.

Authors

Dan Prince

Dan Prince

Birmingham

+44 (0)121 698 5282

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