Thursday, 05 October 2017
Man sentenced for false injury claims
This week, Mohammed Taj, 56 and Shahnaz Zaman, 46 both of Brookhill Road, Birmingham have been sentenced for fraud by false representation and conspiracy to commit fraud at Birmingham Crown Court, after detectives from the City of London Police's Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) discovered that Taj had grossly exaggerated an injury claim following a road traffic accident in Pakistan. Taj received three years imprisonment and Zaman received 12 months suspended sentence and a 20 hour rehabilitation order.
During a visit to Pakistan on 25 October 2011, Taj was travelling on a bus which was involved in a collision with a lorry. Several people were killed in the crash and Taj incurred a number of injuries. He was hospitalised in Pakistan and on 5 November 2011 he was able to return to the UK. He was admitted to a hospital in Birmingham where he underwent a number of surgical procedures before eventually being discharged on 6 January 2012.
Having taken out a Disabling Injuries Protection Plan in September 1998 with the American Insurance Group (AIG), Taj made a claim against this plan on 7 February 2012 for the injuries he received in the bus collision. AIG was concerned about this claim as Taj had previously submitted several accident claims so they decided to investigate further.
As part of this investigation, it was arranged for Taj to attend an independent medical examination on 9 February 2013. AIG also requested the services of a private investigation company to carry out surveillance on Taj when he attended this appointment.
The medical examiner compiled a report detailing numerous injuries including dislocations, fractures and facial injuries. It was during this appointment that Taj claimed he needed a wheelchair and two crutches to remain mobile. However, CCTV footage obtained via surveillance showed that Taj had driven to the medical appointment on 9 February 2013, but had stopped a short distance from the destination to swap places with Zaman; Taj was able to swap places and move around the vehicle unaided. Zaman then drove the remaining distance to the appointment where Taj got out of the vehicle and was pushed into the building in a wheelchair. After the appointment, Taj was pushed back to the car in a wheelchair where he got up with the use of crutches, got into the driver's side of the car and drove away.
AIG sent this surveillance to the medical examiner who produced an addendum to the original examination report stating that Taj's behaviour and movement changed between the lead up to the appointment and immediately following the examination. This led AIG to repudiate Taj's insurance claim on the basis that no permanent disability was evident - a decision which was challenged by Taj.
On 27 February 2014, AIG sent an investigator to speak with Taj, he claimed that he attended his medical appointment on 9 February 2013 using a wheelchair and by being helped into a specialist taxi for the disabled. He also claimed that he had been unable to drive since the collision in 2011.
AIG subsequently formally repudiated the claim, which had a reserve set of £83,737.50, and referred the case to IFED for investigation in March 2014. No money was paid out to Taj as a result of this claim.
On 24 September 2014, officers from the City of London Police's IFED attended Taj's home address where he was arrested. During this visit a search warrant was carried out and officers discovered documents which indicated that Taj had made a further insurance claim with a second insurance company. This second policy consisted of two aspects – hospitalisation and permanent total disability.
The hospitalisation aspect of the second claim was settled for £4,980 on 21 June 2012. The permanent total disability claim was settled for £22,500 prior to Taj's arrest. The second insurance company was supplied with a copy of the surveillance footage following Taj's arrest. The company confirmed that, had it been made aware of the footage prior to settling Taj's claim, it would have rejected his claim for permanent total disability.
Taj answered bail on 17 December 2014 and was interviewed for a second time. It was during this interview that Taj was arrested for a second offence of fraud by false representation regarding his second insurance claim.
City of London Police Detective Sergeant Mohammed Darr, who led the investigation for IFED, said, 'Taj was determined to take advantage of the insurance industry by making two false claims. However, due to the hard work of our officers and the co-operation of the insurance companies, his cunning attempts to deceive medical professionals were ultimately unsuccessful. His actions have resulted in his conviction and sentencing here today which sends out a clear message that insurance fraud will not be tolerated.'
David Halstead, fraud manager at AIG said, 'Whilst we are pleased to have prevented Taj from defrauding AIG, this is another sad example of someone's greed getting the better of them. Had Taj been honest and truthful, it's likely he would have received some compensation. Instead, he chose to lie to us and the medical experts who were trying to help him. As a result, he has ended up with no money and a criminal record. This should serve as a lesson to anyone tempted to commit this type of fraud in the future.'