A 39-year-old man has been convicted for his part in an insurance fraud where an ice cream van was used to stage fake accidents across the country.
The van was linked to three separate fraudulent insurance claims, which would have cost the insurers in the region of £100,000 if they had been paid out in full.
Barry Mark Sandmann, 39, of Brompton Lane, Strood, Kent pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey on Friday 29 April to conspiracy to defraud and fraud by false representation.
He also lied about the time of another genuine accident to try and get insurance cover for damage caused to another van when he reversed his into it.
His story was proved false when the driver of the other vehicle produced time-stamped images of the damage, which were taken about an hour before Sandmann claimed the collision happened.
A forged estimate for the repairs to the ice cream van was sent to Sandmann’s insurer Allianz for £23,880.
Allianz referred the case to the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) where detectives discovered that the NFU Mutual cheque was cashed by somebody using a false Irish driving licence as identification.
When the insurance industry was alerted about the scam, a further case involving the same ice cream van was revealed, including a 2014 claim dealt with by Covéa Insurance.
Detectives compared images of the ice cream van taken by all three insurers and discovered that the damage was the same, the stock in the van was the same and the mileage shown on the odometer was identical – indicating that the vehicle had not been driven at any time between the alleged accidents.
Sandmann is due to be sentenced at the Old Bailey on 27 May. Detectives from IFED are now appealing to anyone with information about the van or its owner to try and identify other fraudsters.
Detective Constable Paula Doyle from IFED said: “In the space of two months, Sandmann not only tried to take out a policy to cover him for an accident that had already happened, but then tried to facilitate a crash for cash scam so that others could profit.
“We’re keen to hear from anyone who may have seen this ice cream van, or knows who owns it, as there are others involved in setting up this scam that we have not been able to identify.”
She continued: “Thanks to the good relationships and information sharing between IFED and the insurance industry, what first appeared to be an isolated incident has been uncovered as an organised scam and we’re determined to try and identify and bring all those involved to justice.”
Mihir Pandya, fraud manager at Allianz, added: “This is another example of people trying to commit insurance fraud being caught and ending up with nothing except a criminal record.
“We have skilled and experienced fraud teams working at Allianz and we will push for the prosecution of anyone we find trying to defraud us.”