Six men have been jailed for a total of 13 and a half years at Liverpool Crown Court for conspiracy to defraud by false representation.
The men worked together in their professional roles to commit insurance fraud, defrauding victims of £426,000.
This is the first City of London Police Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) prosecution involving solicitors.
The six men were sentenced to the following:
- Nadir Suleman, aged 31, four year’s imprisonment
- Arif Patel, aged 33, 32 months’ imprisonment
- Nadim Iqbal, aged 28, 28 months’ imprisonment
- Aadiel Salya, aged 29, two years’ imprisonment and a director’s disqualification for seven years
- Wasim Iqbal, aged 27, 15 months’ imprisonment
- Alex Butler, aged 29, 15 months’ imprisonment and a director’s disqualification for seven years
The criminality first came to light in September 2012, when Suleman, a qualified solicitor working at Faleys Solicitors in Blackburn, made a claim on behalf of his wife, after her Mini Cooper fell from a ramp when it was being repaired. The car was written off and Suleman submitted a claim to NIG Insurance via Farleys, bypassing Farleys’ company procedures.
In addition to the claim for the Mini Cooper Suleman further claimed for solicitors’ fees and the hire of a vehicle from Matrix Car Hire. Matrix Car Hire purported to be controlled by Patel.
It was later found that the hire vehicle was in fact being advertised for sale at a car dealership in Kent. Enquiries found that neither the dealership nor the new buyer knew anything about Patel and Suleman.NIG queried the claim and referred the case to IFED in April 2013 and an investigation was launched.
On the 26th March 2014 Suleman and Patel were arrested at their home addresses and their properties were searched. Evidence was seized which exposed the extent of their fraudulent activity. Files on a computer seized from Suleman’s house showed he was involved in a number of fraudulent medical insurance claims.
Patel also had a number of fraudulent invoices which had been altered to show treatments which had never been given to patients. Their phones were confiscated by officers and Whatsapp conversations found on them, began to show the size of the organised criminal network involved.
On the 22nd May 2014, officers arrested Nadim Iqbal at Dylan Nair Solicitors, where he was working as a Paralegal. A search of his desk found falsified medical reports with Farleys Solicitors referenced.
Nadim Iqbal also had several incriminating photographs of invoices on his phone, one showing an invoice and a Dylan Nair cheque for £3,000 made payable to Butler. When officers searched the boot of Nadim Iqbal’s car they found eight claim files for road traffic accidents, a number of these files appeared unusual and one of them being for a client linked to Plus One Medical which Dylan Nair had no trading relationship with.
When officers investigated Plus One Medical, they found that fraudulent claims were being made. Further investigation into the cheque made payable to Butler led officers to Wasim Iqbal who was employed by Eastway Solicitors as a trainee solicitor. Wasim Iqbal was found to be a close friend of Butler who was the director of Plus One Medical. The pair were arrested on 7 August 2014 and officers found a bundle of fraudulent Plus One Medical invoices on Wasim Iqbal’s desk at Eastway Solicitors. Butler’s computer and phone were seized and later examination of these items showed them to be making fake medical claims.
Further examination of Suleman and Patel’s phones led detectives to arrest Salya in February 2015. His phone and computer were seized and officers found that he was a key player in ReplaceMyCar; a fraudulent hire care company that Suleman and Patel had been naming when they had been making false claims.
On sentencing, the judge praised the hard work of Detective Constable Jones and Financial Investigator Mark Broughton.
Head of the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department, Detective Inspector Oliver Little said:
“This is a ground-breaking case for the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department; we have been investigating these solicitors and their associates for a number of years, working tirelessly with the insurance industry, Lancashire Police and the solicitor’s firms involved to ensure that these men were finally brought to justice.
“These men abused their professional roles, betrayed their employers and exploited the insurance industry for their own monetary gain. Today they are facing the consequences of their greed and these sentences should help to deter other professionals from pursuing a criminal path”.
A representative of Farleys Solicitors said:
“We would like to thank City of London Police for their painstaking work in bringing Mr Suleman and his co-conspirators to justice. As a Solicitor, Mr Suleman was required to conduct himself with integrity and to the highest professional standards. Instead, he conspired with others to embark on a complex fraud, letting down his clients, the good name of Farleys and the Solicitors profession.
“We have ensured that no client has suffered any financial loss as a result of his conduct which has been reported to the Solicitors Regulation Authority who will now take steps to remove him from the Solicitors Roll”.
James Dalton, Director of General Insurance Policy, Association of British Insurers, said:
“This ruling shows that the industry will do whatever it takes to root out anyone who abuses their professional position to commit insurance fraud. The dishonesty of these solicitors and their associates tarnishes the reputation of those honest claimant lawyers. These sentences reflect the fact that never has the likelihood of receiving a custodial sentence and collecting a criminal record, that could destroy careers, been greater.”
Mike Brown Head of Counter Fraud Intelligence with NIG, said:
"Insurance fraud is not a victimless crime. We are committed to working in partnership with enforcement agencies to detect, disrupt and prosecute those involved in this type of criminality. The sentences handed down today should serve as a stark warning to those that seek to commit insurance fraud."