Philip Swift, a former detective and now MD of Kent-based Claims Management & Adjusting (CMA), has described an incident in Drayton, Oxfordshire, as “One of most blatant attempted deceptions I’ve seen in all my years as a motor insurance fraud investigator.”

On 23 August 2021, Octavian Radu, aged 28 – of Southampton, or Milton in Oxfordshire, according to different sources – crashed an Audi A4 into a house on The Green, in Drayton near Abingdon, causing at least £85,000 worth of damage. The initial estimate was £120,000.

At the scene, with the car still half wedged in the property, the Uber Eats delivery driver contacted an insurance company, obtaining a policy. Local enquiries quickly established the incident occurred 12 minutes earlier, with witnesses reporting Radu ‘on his phone’.

On 5 September 2022, Oxford Magistrates’ Court found Radu guilty of driving without due care and attention. He admitted using the car without valid insurance, was fined £400 and must pay £1,400 in compensation and £340 in costs and surcharges. He also received eight penalty points on his driving licence.

Philip Swift said: “Retrospectively getting cover, or ‘forward dating’ the event, is a common con, but this one was absurd, seemingly designed to fool the police he had purchased cover that very same day. This immediately set alarm bells ringing and prompt notification by our client enabled us to verify key facts while the shocking incident was still fresh in the memory of locals.

“According to the Insurance Fraud Bureau, scams cost the UK economy over £3 billion every year, so we urge insurers to be rigorous in their approach. We demonstrate daily that facts fight fraud, although in this case our skills were not unduly tested! With our data and expertise, investigation and prosecution need not be prohibitively onerous or costly. In addition to the financial rewards of repudiation, companies taking proactive steps also benefit from enhanced customer trust.

“The Audi’s vehicle registration mark (VRM) – number plate – currently has a ‘destroyed’ marker against it, but I note that it has not yet been listed as category ‘A’ or ‘B’ salvage. Our bespoke claims handling system, CHandler, will automatically alert us if this changes… or if there is any other ‘unusual’ activity!”