Two men from London have been sentenced after grossly exaggerating a minor accident to claim for personal injury and vehicle damage.
The men claimed that another driver had crashed into the rear of their vehicle at around 30 to 40 miles per hour whilst they were stationary at a zebra crossing.
The insurer of the third party, Allianz, noticed significant discrepancies between the accounts of their policyholder and that of the claimants.
After an engineer’s report supported their suspicions, the insurer referred the case to the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) for further investigation.
The duo were sentenced as follows on Monday 6 June 2022 at Westminster Magistrates Court:
- Niaz Mohammadi, 50, of Hayes, Hillingdon, sentenced to 4 months imprisonment suspended for 18 months, and ordered to pay £1,372 in compensation, court costs and victim surcharge.
- Said Raheem, 22, of Hayes, Hillingdon, sentenced to 4 months imprisonment suspended for 18 months, and ordered to pay £1,372 in compensation, court costs and victim surcharge.
Detective Constable Sajida Zaman, from the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED):
“Unfortunately, we see far too many cases of opportunistic fraudsters exploiting an honest accident for financial gain. Mohammadi took this a step even further by making defamatory allegations about the third party driver, claiming that he was driving whilst drunk. He maintained his story to the bitter end and only admitted his guilt when this case reached court.
“Unlike Mohammadi, Raheem at least took accountability for his actions and cooperated with our investigation after being interviewed. It seems as though Raheem was caught up in Mohammadi’s enticing promise of quick, easy money, and did not consider that this luring offer could land him with a criminal record. I hope that he has learnt from this experience and that we do not see him referred to IFED again.”
In March 2020, Allianz received an engineer’s report from an accident management company acting on behalf of Mohammadi. The report stated that Mohammadi’s Audi A3 had sustained moderate damage to the rear following an accident with another vehicle. The vehicle was deemed unroadworthy and the loss was valued at £2,080.
Mohammadi and Raheem submitted personal injury claims following the accident. Both men provided matching accounts of the incident, claiming that Mohammadi was driving and had been stationary at a zebra crossing to let pedestrians cross, while Raheem was a passenger in his car. Whilst waiting for the pedestrians to pass, a Ford Transit van collided into the rear of the vehicle at speed, causing significant damage. Both alleged that the van driver fled the scene.
The van driver contacted Allianz to report that he had been involved in an accident with one of their policyholders. The third party provided a contradictory account, revealing that he was slowing his vehicle on the approach to a red traffic light when his foot slipped from the brake. This caused his van to roll forward and hit Mohammadi’s Audi A3 at no more than three miles per hour. Mohammadi was the only occupant that he saw in the car.
Mohammadi got out of the vehicle and became abusive towards the van driver, as well as demanding his driving licence and then refusing to return it to him. Due to Mohammadi’s behaviour, the third party drove away from the scene after taking photos of the two vehicles. These photos showed no visible damage to either vehicle.
After the insurer received these conflicting accounts, Allianz ordered a forensic engineer to review the extensive damage shown in the photos from the accident management company’s report. The engineer confirmed that the pattern and dimensions of the damage to the Audi A3 were not consistent with a rear end collision from a van of this type. With this confirmed, the insurer referred the case to IFED.
Officers from the unit interviewed Raheem first, who initially maintained the story he had provided with his claim. When shown photographs of the vehicles taken by the van driver, Raheem said that he “needs to stop lying and tell the truth”. Raheem then admitted that he had been approached by Mohammadi, who told him he could make him some money and asked for his driving licence. He confirmed that he was not in the car at the time of the accident, but was contacted by a solicitor who told him to go to the hospital. Raheem said that he regretted his actions and apologised for what he had done.
During his interview, Mohammadi claimed that the van driver had hit him at around 30 to 40 miles per hour. He also alleged that the driver was unsteady on his feet and appeared to be drunk when he exited the vehicle, hence why he took his driving licence away from him. Officers advised Mohammadi of Raheem’s confession and also presented the photographs taken by the van driver. In spite of this overwhelming evidence, Mohammadi upheld his account.
James Burge, Head of Counter Fraud at Allianz Commercial, commented:
“Opportunistic fraudsters might think they can lie and exaggerate to gain financially. However, when we spot inconsistencies, it triggers an investigation that will catch them out. We hope that these sentences will deter would-be fraudsters.”