Woman avoids jail following major investigation into staged car crashes
Fraudulent claimants should be forced to compensate the HSE for wasting the valuable time of those working in emergency services, the Head of Fraud with Aviva Ireland says.
Rob Smyth welcomed the conviction of a woman on Friday for her role in a staged car accident in 2012, but says tougher sanctions need to be introduced for fraudsters.
The 42-year-old woman was one of 50 people arrested as part of a major investigation by gardai and various insurance companies, who managed to video-tape several accidents being orchestrated in Co Cork.
She received a 12-month suspended sentence for her role in a staged car accident on a back road near Lombardstown, Mallow in 2012.
Seven people were involved in the two-car collision, which was one of six organised accidents that took place in Cork over a two-year period.
The investigation into these incidents, dubbed 'Operation Nascar', was launched in 2012 following multiple complaints from insurance and motor companies in relation to suspicious damages claims.
A number of those arrested were subsequently charged with fraud and prosecuted, including a former insurance industry assessor who helped organise the scams.
All the participants in the six accidents claimed to have suffered soft-tissue injuries, presented themselves to A&E and subsequently submitted claims.
Three insurance companies - Liberty, Aviva and Axa - then faced total personal injury claim pay-outs of €219,000 as a result.
Rob Smyth says Aviva will continue to fight cases like this as part of a zero-tolerance approach to fraud.
"We have a duty to our customers to fight fraud relentlessly and we will continue to collaborate with An Garda Siochana to ensure fraudsters are prosecuted in the criminal courts," he told Independent.ie.
"Unfortunately, like many staged accidents, the fraudster ends up in hospital with non-existent injuries. In this particular incident, four people were taken to A&E at Cork University Hospital, thereby wasting the valuable time and resources of the emergency services as well as diverting them from cases of genuine need.
"Wasting the valuable time of doctors and nurses should not be tolerated and a convicted fraudster should be forced to compensate the HSE."
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