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Fraudulent insurance claims hit 'record £1.3bn'

The combined cost of fraudulent insurance claims reached a record £1.3 billion last year, according to an industry watchdog.

The most fraud committed was with fake car insurance claims, according to ABI. Credit: PA

Data released by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said the annual cost of insurance fraud passed on to the customer was around £90 per head.

The body said there has also been a "significant" increase in people phoning up to report suspected fraudsters, indicating a growing acknowledgement that this is not a "victimless" crime.

Fraudulent motor insurance claims were the most expensive and common to be exposed, with 59,900 dishonest claims worth £811 million detected last year.

Victims of fraud 'lose much more than money'

Victims targeted by fraudsters lose "much more" than money, and that is why sentencing needs to be tougher, a high ranking Judge has said.

Sentencing Council chairman Lord Justice Treacy explained:

Fraudsters are in it to make money, but for their victims it can mean much more than losing money.

Our research with victims showed the great impact it can have on them, so the guideline puts this impact at the centre of considerations of what sentence the offender should get.

– Lord Justice Treacy

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Cost of fraud for victims '£9.1bn over past year'

The total amount of money fraudsters made out of their victims came to £9.1billion between 2012 and 2013, according to the Sentencing Council.

They also found that victims were targeted in multiple ways:

  • As part of Ponzi schemes
  • At cashpoints
  • By cowboy builders
  • Via identify fraud
  • Online phishing schemes
  • Fake online ticket sites
  • Dating sites

In total:

  • Businesses were defrauded of £2.1 billion
  • The public lost £20.6 million
  • Faud against the not-for-profit sector cost charities £147 million in the same period.

Tougher sentences urged for fraudsters

The Sentencing Council is urging judges to pass tougher sanctions against fraudsters who deliberately target the vulnerable.

Fraudsters could face tougher sentencing, under new guidelines. Credit: PA

They want to see victims at the centre of new guidelines on fraud, money laundering and bribery.

This would mean longer sentences for those caught swindling money out of vulnerable members of the society.

In 2012, 17,926 people were sentenced for fraud, a hugely varied offence that can affect individuals, businesses, public money and charities.

Councils using new powers to seize blue badges

The Local Government Association has said that Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Plymouth Council and Hull City Council recently secured their first prosecutions against fraudsters. Manchester City Council has a 100% conviction rate with more than 500 prosecutions in the past five years.

It is shocking how low some people are stooping in order to con a few hours of free parking, including using a dead relative's blue badge or leaving a disabled parent trapped in their home.

Councils are determined to do everything in their power to protect the quality of life for our disabled and vulnerable residents.

– Peter Box, chairman of the LGA's economy and transport board

Councils are also using new powers to seize and confiscate badges suspected of being used illegally and some have set up specific enforcement teams to tackle blue badge fraud.

Blue badge fraud prosecutions 'double' in three years

The number of prosecutions for Blue badge fraud have doubled in three years, with professional people such as lawyers and architects among the offenders.

Unscrupulous fraudsters have been caught using a dead relative's pass or leaving a disabled parent stuck at home in order to park for free to go shopping or travel to work, said the Local Government Association (LGA) .

Blue badge fraud has doubled. Credit: PA

There were 686 successful council prosecutions in 2013 - up from 330 in 2010 as councils cracked down on offenders.

More than two million disabled people use blue badges for free parking in pay-and-display bays and parking for up to three hours on yellow lines through the nationwide scheme. In London, badge-holders are exempt from the congestion charge.

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Citizens Advice reveals most common scams

With fraud offences on the rise in England and Wales, Citizens Advice is warning households to take care to avoid being targeted by scammers.

These are the most common ways fraudsters contact potential victims.

  • Phone (34%)
  • Website (24%)
  • Letter or fax (16%)
  • Email (10%)

Citizens Advice also offered some examples of the types of scams used most often.

  • Online shopping and auction fraud (40,000 reported cases)
  • Counterfeit cashier cheques
  • Dating scams
  • Fake loan companies trying to get hold of people's personal details

Elderly and poor targeted as fraud rises 25%

The elderly and the poor are being targeted among around 4 million people who are victims of scams each year, according to the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB).

Fraud offences in England Wales were up 25% year-on-year in 2013, with over 200,000 cases reported to Action Fraud, the fraud and online crime reporting service.

However, CAB said the real figure was likely to be much higher because a lot of fraud goes unreported.

Rugby-playing fraudster to be sentenced for £923K claim

A man will be sentenced today after he was caught playing rugby while making a £923,000 claim for wrist injuries.

David Ribchester, 31, was warned by a judge that he was thinking of sending him to jail after he pleaded guilty to the scam at the Old Bailey last month.

Ribchester, of Washington in Tyne and Wear, claimed he could not drive, play the drums or pick up his daughter.

But insurance investigators filmed him training at a local rugby club and driving himself around. He pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation on 21 May.

Judge Nicholas Cooke said at the time: "Unfortunately, offending of this type is a big problem. It means I have to deal with it severely. It is the type of offending which is causing a great deal of problems."

'Peter Kay's brother' pleads guilty to fraud

A man who pretended he was Peter Kay's brother so that he could con pub landlords has pleaded guilty to five counts of fraud.

The man posed as Peter Kay's brother. Credit: PA

Peter Stead claimed he was Danny Kay - the brother of Phoenix Nights star Peter - when he offered to put on comedy nights in the Derby, Nottinghamshire and Northamptonshire areas.

Police said 50-year-old Stead was working as a conman under the ruse of fundraising for the Lewis Mighty Fund, a charity raising money for a young boy in Nottingham, who died from an aggressive form of cancer last year.

The man was given cash by the landlords to secure the booking. But when he failed to deliver, police became suspicious.

Officers had been searching for Stead since 2009 until he was recently arrested in Derby.

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