Not all counter-fraud teams are created equal. Here’s just another example of why our team at Crawford Legal Services UK is one of the country’s best.
Katie” (name changed for privacy) lived at an address in Stafford. However, on the date of the alleged theft, her car was parked outside the address of her mother, in Walsall, where she said she was spending the week.
CCTV from a neighbour showed a man approach the car, deactivate the vehicle security, enter the car and drive away. The policyholder claimed this was relay theft. The CCTV suggested the use of the vehicle key.
The policyholder’s insurer paid the total loss with no validation and the inevitable GAP claim followed.
Our client (the GAP insurer) requested the vehicle key fobs for analysis. As usual, the vehicle had two keys – the main key (identified through regular use) with which there were no issues, but the ‘spare’ key had updated at the approximate time of the alleged theft which strongly suggested that key had been used to take the vehicle.
Crawford Legal Services was instructed to take over validation. Katie insisted that key fob number two could not have been used to take the vehicle. She claimed key fob two was kept at all times in her safe at home in Stafford and she said no one else had access. A second key fob expert confirmed the opinion of the first. The spare key had been used to take the car – this was no relay theft.
On the GAP claim form, Katie denied any previous total loss claims. Enquiries revealed she had a previous theft of a car from her driveway in November 2019. In the interview, Katie stated that the car was her partner’s (for the purposes of this article we’ll call him Max) – she claimed an on-on again/ off again relationship existed trying her utmost to distance herself from him. However, she was the policyholder and enquiries with the previous insurer revealed it had substantially discounted the total loss payment in respect of the theft to take into account that she had fronted the policy for Max.
A really interesting feature of the claim was the social media posts made by Katie around the time of both the November 2019 and July 2020 incidents. In both cases, Facebook posts called out she had been the ‘victim’ of relay thefts. In reality, what she was doing was attempting to create a cover story in a public forum which she could later potentially point to if questioned about the legitimacy of her claim (although posts of this nature prove nothing).
Of further interest, Katie’s family (including Max’s brother) also had social media postings referring to relay theft in relation to three vehicles around the same timeframes as the alleged thefts involving Katie.
The claim was ultimately declined on the grounds of fraud. Either Katie had conspired and allowed the use of the spare key, or her partner Max (who was doing building work at her home) had accessed the safe and used the key.
Remarkably, even in the face of such compelling evidence, Katie complained to the FOS. The FOS upheld the decision to decline as reasonable.
Lessons to be learned:
- The intelligence picture was really very interesting. Max’s brother had connections to the motor industry. CLS see cars involved in a variety of total loss incidents but we find, as a general rule, that when a fake theft is organised by a policyholder they need a means to dispose of the car. Typically we see links to the motor industry, scrap yards, export industry or organised criminality.
- The policyholder’s insistence that the key was not used in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary was striking.
- Motor insurers routinely fail to examine the data contained on key fobs before making total loss payments arising from theft claims.
On this claim alone, we saved our client over £16k.