Thursday 21 November 2019

Three generations of same family held over €1m insurance frauds

(Stock image)
(Stock image)

Ken Foy

THREE generations of the same family were arrested in dawn raids yesterday by detectives investigating organised bogus insurance claims which have yielded more than €1m.

The five suspects include three men aged from late teens to mid-40s while the two women are in their mid-40s and late 60s.

Detectives from the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) made the arrests in the Lucan area of the capital as part of Operation Coatee.

The family-based organised crime gang is suspected of making up to 60 fraudulent claims against local authorities in Dublin and Kildare over a number of years, which have netted them huge money.

“Their fraudulent claims have mostly been for fake slips, trips and falls and in many cases they have used false names when making these claims,” a senior source told Independent.ie.

“In a lot of instances these claims were settled out of court while others went to the Circuit Court and High Court. You are talking about a lot of money here.”

The eldest suspect arrested is a woman in her 60s who received a three-year suspended jail sentence earlier this year at Dublin Circuit Court for fraud.

She tried to process a bogus personal injury claim because she needed money to cover the costs of her and her husband’s funerals.

She admitted inducing staff at a medical clinic into believing she was another woman, with the intention of making a gain for herself in 2017.

The woman also previously claimed she slipped on a cabbage leaf in an Iceland store and then sued under a bogus name, but the claim was struck out at that hearing by a Dublin Circuit Civil Court judge in February 2018.

Yesterday’s arrests of the five family members are considered “extremely significant” in the GNECB’s major probe into the massive organised insurance scam.

Gardai said the arrests were a follow-up to a major search operation in April when six cars and jewellery valued at more than €300,000 were seized from the gang.

The cars seized were a Jaguar, a Mercedes, a BMW, a Dacia and two Volkswagen Golfs.

Documentation and financial records were also seized with gardai hoping to prosecute those suspected of insurance-related criminality.

“Investigations carried out, to date, by GNECB indicate that a number of targets in this operation have submitted multiple claims, in many circumstances while using false identities,” gardai said.

Armed gardai were not used in yesterday’s arrest operation but in April the fraud squad was assisted by the CAB and Armed Support Unit (ASU).

“The activities of organised crime gangs like this who are involved in insurance fraud crimes affect everyone,” a senior source said.

“It’s the activities of groups like this that has played a part in insurance premiums being so high, which in turn has led to small businesses not being able to operate because of the high cost of insurance,” the source added.

Many of the crimes that the family members are being investigated for have led to money being already being paid out to them.

However, gardai say that this won’t prevent them investigating the fraudulent claims.

Herald

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