A Bromley man who pocketed more than £72,000 after a series of false claims to insurers has been handed a jail sentence.
Richard Charles claimed to insurers he had suffered knee and elbow injuries, while posting pictures of himself online jetskiing and lifting weights.
The 37-year-old also made four claims for tools ‘stolen’ from his van and was set to receive another £35,000 when the scam was unearthed.
He was jailed for a year at Woolwich Crown Court after pleading guilty to seven counts of fraud.
Pictures of Charles, who also worked as a gardener, were found on a related social media account.
As well as showing him doing physically demanding tasks like lifting weights and jetskiing, it also revealed he had carried on working whilst insurers paid out on his bogus injuries.
In August 2015 he took out a Personal Accident & Sickness Policy and claimed he had fallen after slipping on a wet surface, injuring his left elbow.
That insurer ended up paying out £41,600 in the months that followed.
In October 2015, Charles took out a Personal Accident & Sickness Policy with Aviva. Just three months later in January 2016, he again said he’d slipped on decking whilst at work, injuring his left elbow.
Over the next twelve months, Charles maintained claims that the injury to his elbow had left him unable to work, resulting in his Aviva paying out a total of £26,000.
He even provided the same London street for the address at which he was working when the ‘accident’ happened.
The residents of these addresses later confirmed that they had not hired Charles to complete any work, nor did their garden have the decking surface which Charles claims to have slipped on.
Greedy Charles claimed again from Aviva a year later, saying he’d tripped on a small set of steps in his home and injured his left knee, leaving him unable to work.
This second claim raised concerns for Aviva, who arranged for Charles to be medically examined.
An MRI scan concluded that Charles had not sustained the severe knee injury that he had claimed, which led Aviva to refer the case to City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED).
Charles also claimed on four separate occasions that his van had been broken into and tools had been stolen, receiving £4,739 in compensation with another £9,255 claimed.
In an attempt to substantiate his claims, he provided bogus receipts as proof of purchase and photographs showing ‘damage’ to his van.
A subsequent data check proved that these images were in fact taken three months before the first incident was alleged to have taken place.
These claims date between May 2016 and August 2017, during the claims period in which Charles reported that he was unable to work due to his injuries.
Detective Sergeant Matthew Hussey, said: “Charles was systematic in his attempt to fraudulently claim insurance pay-outs from five insurers over a period of almost two years.
“By faking injuries and lying about the theft of his tools, he was able to take home more than £72k in unearned cash, with a further £35k of claims attempted but thankfully not paid out.
“Charles’ sentencing reflects the enormity of his deception, and the amount of work that has gone into bringing him to justice.
“Many people wrongly assume insurance fraud is a victimless crime. What they don’t consider is the fact that incidences of insurance fraud, such as this one, can push up premiums for other, innocent customers.”
The sentencing brings the number of custodial sentences achieved by the IFED to a milestone 300 since its creation in 2012.
Detective Chief Inspector Edelle Michaels, said: “This sentencing marks a significant milestone for IFED.
“Whilst Covid has delayed a number of court cases over the course of this year, the IFED team has worked hard and adapted to this new climate, bringing a number of fraudsters to justice despite the difficult circumstances.
“The result is true testament to the department’s resilience and determination in the fight against insurance fraud.”
Carl Mather, Special Investigations Unit Manager at Aviva, said: “This case shows how closely insurers work with each other and with the police to fight fraud.
“Aviva is committed to continually improving its fraud detection capabilities and where we find fraud, we will work closely with the police to prosecute.
“Aviva detected Mr Charles’ fraud, and also identified that he had made a number of claims with other insurers.
“Aviva alerted industry partners and we shared information which has now resulted in his prosecution for seven offences of fraud valued at more than £100,000.
“Mr Charles must now face the reality of a criminal conviction; the custodial sentence will limit his future employment opportunities and application for insurance, loans and other essential services.”