A man from Norfolk has been sentenced for deliberately causing extensive damage to his car in an attempt to fraudulently claim on his insurance.
Shamim Ali, 53, of Norwich, claimed that his car had been vandalised whilst he was at a party. Discrepancies between the engineer’s report and Ali’s account raised alarm bells for his insurer, Zurich, who referred the case to the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) for investigation.
Ali pleaded guilty on Friday 4 March 2022 at Suffolk Magistrates Court and was sentenced on the same day to 120 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay £1,200 in compensation to his victim.
T/Detective Inspector Matthew Hussey, from the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED), said:
“What started out as a night of festivity would soon turn into the day that Ali set himself up for a criminal record.
“It seems that Ali’s engine had failed a few months before, causing costly damage to the vehicle. Rather than paying to repair his vehicle, Ali attempted to exploit his insurance policy by alleging that the car had been severely vandalised.
“Whilst this may seem like a victimless crime, fraud like this, costs honest policyholders in the form of raised premiums to cover investigation costs and losses.”
Ali attended a party in Ipswich on 14 December 2018 from around 10.30pm until 6.00am the following morning, parking his BMW 318i on a road near the property.
Zurich was contacted by Ali on 15 December to report that his vehicle had been damaged whilst parked outside of the party. Ali stated that he had driven from his home address in Norwich to the address in Ipswich. He returned to his vehicle to find that the driver’s window and both windscreens had been smashed, and that there was also a dent and large scratch on the bonnet.
The insurer arranged for the vehicle to be recovered from the location. The car was then examined by an engineer to assess the damage and cost of repair. Examination of the vehicle’s exterior matched Ali’s statement. However, an inspection of the engine revealed that the vehicle had sustained a catastrophic internal failure, causing significant damage.
The nature of this damage and oil contamination to the underside of the vehicle indicated that the vehicle was being driven at the time of the engine failure. This report suggested that Ali must have been aware of the vehicle failing, and that the internal damage could not have been caused by the alleged vandalism that occurred when the car was stationary.
Further diagnostic reports found that the vehicle’s only key was last used in October 2018, meaning that the car could not have been driven from Norwich to Ipswich on the date that Ali stated.
Zurich contacted their policyholder on multiple occasions to discuss the circumstances surrounding his claim. In spite of the glaring inconsistencies, Ali maintained his account when confronted with the results of the report.
During an interview with IFED officers, Ali persisted with his story and stated that the findings of the report must be incorrect. Ali also added that a racist word had been etched onto the bonnet of the car. However, photos from the report showed no words scratched into this part of the vehicle.
Scott Clayton, Head of Claims Fraud at Zurich, said, “Ali claimed his car had been vandalised while he was at a party but this sentence is unlikely to give him much cause to celebrate. A hefty fine, community service and criminal record, highlight the serious consequences of insurance fraud.
“The vast majority of claims we receive are legitimate, and we pay them promptly. But we also have highly effective mechanisms in place to detect bogus claims, and work closely with the police to prosecute offenders.”