Claim fraudsters 'think too much'
Liars give themselves away by thinking too hard about their story, a researcher into insurance fraud has said.
Sharon Leal, a research fellow at the University of Portsmouth, has been awarded a £112,000 grant by a leading insurance fraud investigation firm to examine how people behave when they make fraudulent insurance claims.
The expert in detecting deception says her research has shown that liars make extensive plans before they lie, but that truth-tellers do not plan their story.
She explained that because liars need to think about their plan when being questioned, this puts a large load on their brain which in turn affects their behaviour.
She said it is these changes which are most likely to form the basis of new investigative methods designed to spot the cheats.
Dr Leal said: "There is a real need to use evidence-based methods that are scientifically proven to work to stop wasting insurance companies' time and money and to stop innocent people being treated as suspects while the guilty get away."
She explained that an insurance company's investigation into a claim could be triggered for a range of reasons, including a large claim on a new policy, or the investigator having a gut feeling that something does not add up.
She said that a common trigger for an investigation is when the claimant cannot recall specific details surrounding the incident, such as what the other person was wearing or how many people were in the vicinity at the time.
Dr Leal said: "Insurance fraud has been on the rise since the recession began and insurance companies are very keen to find a way of beating those who cheat.
"There is a saying, 'needs must when the devil rides', which basically means when times are tough, people are more likely to break the rules. That is certainly true in the case of insurance fraud. People think if they are telling the truth it will shine out, but it doesn't."