The insurance industry’s fight to detect and disrupt insurance fraud has reached a double milestone following an early morning arrest in Luton. This action marks the 1000th arrest1 made as a result of information and support given to law enforcement by the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB).
The action also comes just 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 – completed its five hundredth arrest2.
John O’Roarke, chairman of the insurance 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, places 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, the 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.
Identification of organised frauds
Ben Fletcher, director of the IFB, explained: “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 are not opportunists, but are actively involved in organised scams raking in millions of pounds.”
Fletcher added: “The notion of insurance fraud as a ‘victimless crime’ is on the wane, in part thanks to the IFED’s enforcement and disruption activity on the front line.”
Steve Head – City of London Police Commander and the Police National Co-ordinator for Economic Crime – explained: “This level of enforcement activity demonstrates that the IFED is delivering on its primary purpose of working with industry to bring fraudsters to justice and disrupt their criminal enterprises.”
He continued: “Every arrest the IFED team makes actively 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 Service, whose team made the 1000th arrest, said: “Operation Catcher is a small and 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 latest arrest is linked to an organised criminal gang we have now been investigating for over a year, 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.”
Industry recently extended and increased its investment in IFED, committing £11.7 million over three years to fund further expansion of the unit.
Consultation on future strategy
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. The results are expected to be announced in late September.
1The IFB’s 1000th assisted arrest came when Metropolitan Police Service 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
2IFED’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