A FRAUDER has bought broken down and damaged cars to use in bogus insurance claims in a bid to defraud around £25,000.
Michael Smith, 47, claimed he was involved in a car accident, then said the same vehicle was stolen outside his home, then made another false claim involving a separate vehicle.
He also took out a three-day auto insurance policy for a Toyota Rav-4 in Michael Gold’s name in September 2019.
On the police’s final day, Smith called the insurer to report he had been involved in an accident earlier in the day near Chelmsford, Essex – around 30 miles from his home in Wood Green, north London .
He claimed his vehicle skidded in the rain and hit a tree, causing extensive damage to the front of the car, leaving him with a nosebleed and headache.
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The car was recovered by a vehicle salvage company the same day and put into storage.
Smith amended a separate existing policy he held with Aviva to cover the same Toyota Rav-4, then two days later Smith called Aviva to report the car had been stolen overnight outside his home .
During this call, he confirmed that he bought the car the day he changed his policy.
Investigators later discovered that a car auction company was already stocking a Toyota Rav-4 with the same license plate following a claim with another insurer.
When the insurance company visited the storage site where the car had been held for three months, it was confirmed that it was the same vehicle and therefore could not have been stolen from the Smith’s home.
When fraud cops raided Smith’s home, they discovered evidence showing the car in the names of Michael Smith and Michael Gold.
The vehicle salvage company told police the Toyota Rav-4 had rust, damage and cobwebs when they recovered it, while the staff member who recovered the vehicle said also said the car battery was dead.
Investigators traced ownership of the car, which revealed it was purchased from a salvage car dealership in damaged condition on the day Smith claimed it was involved in an accident.
The rental company confirmed that it had never sold cars and that the letterhead receipt produced by Smith was fake.
About a month before the accident claim, Smith changed his policy to cover a Mercedes-Benz, then contacted Aviva the next day to report he had been in an accident while driving to get an MOT.
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He said a vehicle ahead of him signaled to turn but continued to drive straight, which caused Smith to swerve and hit a large rock in the process.
There was significant damage to the vehicle and the airbags had been deployed, he said.
Smith gave Aviva proof of purchase for the Mercedes from the same rental company he would later claim to have purchased the Toyota Rav-4 from.
Officers reviewed the Mercedes’ history and found the car was damaged in a collision in May 2019, with dash cam footage to prove it.
The vehicle was then turned over to a salvage car dealership and purchased by Smith already damaged four days before the alleged crash.
Checks with the DVLA also revealed that the name on Smith’s driving record had been changed five times.
At the Old Bailey on Wednesday, Smith was jailed for two years, suspended for 18 months and ordered to perform 120 hours of unpaid work and pay £6,318.78 in compensation and costs.
He pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud by false representation in June at Westminster Magistrates Court.