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Insurance fraudsters feel the heat as IFB and IFED reach double arrest milestone

08 August 2014

The insurance industry's fight to detect and disrupt insurance fraud reached a double milestone today following an early morning arrest in Luton.

This action marks the 1000th(1) arrest made as a result of information and support given to law enforcement by the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB).

It also comes weeks after the City of London Police's Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED), the only police unit in England and Wales funded by the industry and dedicated to tackling insurance fraud, made its 500th(2) arrest.

John O'Roarke, Chair of the industry's Financial Crime Committee, said: "The IFB and IFED are our response to the menace that is insurance fraud. This criminality impacts on our economy, costs the insurance industry billions of pounds, hits honest policy holders in the pocket and, in some cases, puts innocent lives at risk. The message to anyone committing insurance fraud is simple: you will be found out and you will be arrested."

The units attack insurance fraud from different angles but for the same purpose. Where the IFB operates behind the scenes, using its access to significant volumes of data to identify organised cross-industry fraudulent activity, IFED is at the 'sharp end', investigating insurance fraud, disrupting criminal activity and arresting suspects. 

The units routinely work together with industry and other law enforcement agencies in a co-ordinated show of force.

Ben Fletcher, IFB Director, said: "Our focus is on using our unique range of data to identify organised frauds which are not visible to individual insurers. That's what really makes the 1,000 arrests significant; we believe these people aren’t opportunists, but are actively involved in organised scams raking in millions of pounds.

"The notion of insurance fraud as a 'victimless crime' is on the wane, in part thanks to IFED's enforcement and disruption activity at the front line."

City of London Police Commander and the Police National Coordinator for Economic Crime, Steve Head, said: "This level of enforcement activity demonstrates that IFED is delivering on its primary purpose of working with industry to bring fraudsters to justice and disrupt their criminal enterprises.

"Every arrest the IFED team make stops a suspected insurance fraudster in their tracks and, just as importantly, when the news of this appears in national and local newspapers, on television or on social media, it makes others who have previously thought insurance fraud is an easy touch or a criminal action with no consequences to think again."

Detective Inspector David Hindmarsh from the Metropolitan Police, whose team made the 1000th arrest, said: "Operation Catcher is a small specialised team of detectives, dedicated to investigating organised criminal gangs who cause collisions with innocent road users for the sole purpose of committing fraud.

"This morning's arrest is linked to an organised criminal gang we have been investigating for over a year now, and is just one of many joint IFB operations we are currently undertaking.

"Members of the public should be aware that this is not a victimless crime and anyone becoming involved in fraud risks being arrested, prosecuted and ultimately receiving a criminal record."

The industry recently extended and increased its investment in IFED, committing £11.7m over three years to fund further expansion of the unit.

The IFB is in the midst of a consultation on its future strategy, which will shape its direction and development over the next five years, and is expected to be announced in late September.

Notes to Editors

  • (1) The IFB's 1000th assisted arrest came when Metropolitan Police detectives from the Operation Catcher team detained a man suspected to be part of an organised criminal gang involved in a ‘crash for cash’ scam.
  • (2) IFED's 500th arrest came in June 2014 when detectives investigating multiple travel insurance claims for missing jackets and bags filled with valuables apprehended a man in London.

Arrests have been counted individually by each organisation. Within the total there are 69 arrests that cross over.

  • The Association of British Insurers (ABI) estimates the value of detected insurance fraud at £1.3 billion and undetected insurance fraud at £2.1 billion.
  • The ABI indicates that insurance fraud adds £50 to the average household’s annual insurance premium.
  • The IFB estimate that organised 'crash for cash' scams cost industry £392 million per year.