A woman from Greater Manchester has been sentenced after pretending to be a passenger in a genuine collision in order to make a bogus personal injury claim worth nearly £4,000.
Natalie Hasford, 32, of Altrincham, Trafford, was sentenced to a 12-month community order with the requirement to complete 120 hours of unpaid work at Manchester Magistrates Court on Thursday 18 November 2021. She was also ordered to repay the money she fraudulently claimed from the insurer, Aviva. Hasford previously pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation at Westminster Magistrates Court on Thursday 21 October 2021.
Police Staff Investigator Abdelkader Rezkallah, from the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED), said:
“Hasford alleged that she was enticed to commit this fraud by the offer of making quick and easy money. However, this decision has ended up costing her far more in the long run in the form of a criminal record and a tarnished reputation.
“The defendant has shown remorse for her actions, providing us with a full and frank admission of her wrongdoing early into our investigation. I hope that today’s outcome has shocked Hasford into sense and will prevent her from straying onto a fraudulent path again.”
Aviva were notified of a collision between one of their customers, who was driving a Ford Transit van, and a Range Rover in the Manchester area in May 2014. Solicitors acting on behalf of the passengers in the Range Rover notified the insurer that they had been instructed to pursue a personal injury claim for Hasford.
In the months following the accident, Hasford attended a medical examination where her ‘injuries’ were assessed. The medical report stated that Hasford had suffered whiplash and that her condition would likely persist for 9 to 12 months. An invoice for 20 physiotherapist sessions to treat the injuries was also submitted to Aviva, totalling £1,290.
Hasford was offered a settlement of £3,700.43 by Aviva for the personal injury claim, of which she received £2,800.48 following the deduction of solicitor’s fees. The remaining balance was paid into Hasford’s bank account.
An IFED investigation flagged Hasford’s involvement in the collision, leading officers to look into the legitimacy of her insurance claim.
Enquiries were made with the physiotherapist named as the treatment provider in Hasford’s claim, who noted the high number of sessions allocated for the level of injury. The 20 sessions of physiotherapy did not correlate with the injuries Hasford described, as this number would be for an individual in significant pain.
IFED officers interviewed Hasford, who initially answered ‘no comment’ to all questions posed. When challenged by officers on the fact that she was on holiday in Egypt on two of the dates she had supposedly received physiotherapy, Hasford broke down and admitted to the offence.
Hasford confessed that she had not been a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the collision, and that she had lied during the medical examination in order to support the claim. As well as this, Hasford also admitted that she had not attended any physiotherapy sessions.
Carl Mather, Manager, from the Special Investigations Unit at Aviva, said:
“This case highlights why the recent whiplash reforms were introduced. It is not just payment to individual fraudsters which have inflated insurance premiums, but also the ancillary (and unnecessary) costs these claims attract. Aviva has a duty to our customers and will always take appropriate action, including the recovery of losses, when fraud is identified.
“Natalie Hasford’s conviction is a deterrent to others who may believe committing insurance fraud is a chance worth taking. She should be credited for admitting the offence and expressing remorse, but today’s sentencing has left an indelible stain on her character. Furthermore, the compensation she is obliged to pay Aviva has ensured she can take no positives whatsoever from this experience. Aviva is committed to the detection of fraud and prosecution of offenders, and today’s outcome will benefit genuine policyholders and ensure they are not made to pay for the fraudulent actions of others.