Friday 24 November 2017

Former insurance assessor jailed over car scam

Tommy Maher (52) was jailed for two years for his part in a car accident scam. Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney
Tommy Maher (52) was jailed for two years for his part in a car accident scam. Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A former insurance industry assessor who helped organise a car accident scam in which fake collisions were staged for spurious personal injury claims was jailed for two years.

Tommy Maher (52) was jailed as the Irish insurance industry warned that €50 is now effectively added to every private motor insurance policy because of fraudulent claims.

Maher pleaded guilty to deception and false reporting charges in relation to six accidents in Cork from which three insurance companies faced total personal injury claim pay-outs of €219,000.

To date, just €44,000 has been recovered from a widespread scam which prompted gardaí to set up a special investigation.

Dubbed 'Operation Nascar', gardaí managed to video-tape several accidents being staged and eventually arrested a total of 26 people. Maher of Scarteen, Newmarket, Cork pleaded guilty before Cork Circuit Criminal Court to a total of six deception charges in relation to six accidents staged across Cork between February 17, 2011 and September 26, 2012.

He also pleaded guilty to three counts of making false reports to the gardaí.

Maher insisted to gardaí he did not financially benefit - but Detective Sergeant Sean Leahy said multiple people questioned by detectives indicated they had paid money to the defendant.

Aviva general insurance head of fraud prevention, Robert Smyth, said fraudulent claims can be prevented only through removing the potential for monetary gain.

"The key to reducing this type of fraud is to eliminate the financial incentive - this can be achieved by replacing monetary compensation with medical care for such whiplash-type injuries," he added.

Irish Independent

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