The Department of Work and Pensions figures showed a 16.6% increase in injury claims over the past four years in Scotland, compared to a 4.5% decrease in England over the same period. This amounts to an extra 7,419 a year since 2011-12 - or 20 new claims a day. As a result, more allegations of insurance fraud are being brought against individuals making claims.
UK insurance law is notoriously complex and ambiguity exists around when it is breached. Keith J Tuck is one of Scotland’s premier defence lawyers, and has developed a highly successful practice of defending clients facing allegations of insurance fraud. If you need to entrust your case to a lawyer that understands what is at stake, contact Keith J Tuck today.
What is insurance fraud?
The Association of Chief Police Officers estimates that it is likely that fraud represents a £20 billion annual loss to the UK – the equivalent of £330 for every person in the country. There has been much discussion over recent years about how to define insurance fraud. However, in Scotland there has always been the substantive common law of fraud – namely, dishonestly making a false representation in order to make a gain for himself or another to the loss of another person. It must be stressed that intent to make a gain is enough is enough in itself in Scottish courts.
For insurance claims, this will most likely relate to the deliberate and dishonest withholding or misrepresentation of material information to gain financial advantage – for example, by providing false information about a claim in words, writing or conduct, including misleading, omission or failure to provide relevant facts.
Types of fraudulent claim are broadly categorized as follows:
- Fictitious losses or incidents
- Exaggerated losses or personal injuries
- Non-disclosures or misrepresentations of material facts
- Motor fraud – staged/induced accidents
The Investigation of Insurance Fraud
Investigation of fraud may include investigations by the Serious Organised Crime Agency, HM Revenue and Customs, Serious Fraud Office, Financial Services Authority, as well as the Police and other bodies.
The internet has facilitated the rise of investment based crime which is acknowledged as a major international issue. The UK government agrees and views cybercrime and cold calling as a important policy priority and has increased funding for the investigation and prosecution of such offences.
Frauds committed in Scotland are usually investigated by Police Scotland, which has regional specialist units within Specialist Crime Division to deal with complex economic crime cases. COPFS is the main prosecuting authority in Scotland. Most fraud prosecution are dealt with by the local Procurator Fiscal. They may choose to pass the matter to the Crown Office’s Economic Crime Unit if they consider the crime serious enough.
It is also important to note that the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has jurisdiction to prosecute any UK or overseas company for offences under the Bribery Act.
Once a decision has been made on whether there is sufficient evidence to establish that a crime has taken place, an individual will either be served with:
- A summary complaint for less serious crimes which is heard by a sheriff sitting without a jury
- An indictment for more serious crimes in either the Sheriff Court with a jury or the High Court.
What are the Consequences of Insurance Fraud?
Offences successfully prosecuted under common law can attract equally heavy penalties, including up to life imprisonment or unlimited fine or both if convicted on indictment. A summary conviction can lead to 12 months’ imprisonment, a prescribed fine or both.
Fraud investigators may ask you to an informal interview if they want to find out if there are grounds to suspect a person of insurance fraud. It is important to be aware that information you give at an informal interview may be used later to make an allegation of insurance fraud against you. However, if the fraud investigators already think you have committed an insurance offence they are more likely to interview you under caution.
Following conviction, the prosecutor can use its power given to it under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to confiscate a fixed sum of money relating to the benefit obtained from their general criminal conduct in a criminal lifestyle case, and from their particular criminal conduct otherwise. Firms regulated by the FCA may face financial penalties and sanctions (including removal of authorisation) under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 for failing to prevent financial crime and/or breaching the FCA's Principles for Business.
Facing the prospect of an interview or investigation can make people very anxious, and cause them to be confused on what the substance of the breach they are alleged to have made is. It is important that if you are suspected of having been involved in insurance fraud or are facing an investigation by the authorities, you instruct a defence lawyer that knows how to respond quickly and effectively with a view to protecting you from potentially harmful scrutiny.
At Keith J Tucker we routinely work with clients in cases of alleged insurance fraud, managing their engagement with the authorities and guarding their interests carefully. If you want to work with a legal team that will act quickly to respond to allegations of wrong doing in a way that protects your interests, contact us today.
Contact Our Insurance Fraud Solicitors in Glasgow, Scotland
If you have been accused of insurance fraud or are facing an investigation by the authorities and need to speak to someone about what to do, contact the fraud defence team at Keith J Tuck Solicitors today by calling 01413362020, or via our online contact form.