A fraudster tried to eat incriminating evidence when he was caught out by police in a £22,000 medical insurance scam.
Cormac McCollum from Stratford in London was sentenced at Inner London crown court earlier this week for two fraudulent travel medical insurance claims amounting to £22,122 after imitating both his partner and his father in order to make claims for alleged medical treatments while abroad.
McCollum was given a 12 month prison sentence suspended for eighteen months, 180 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay £8,000 within 90 days.
The 26-year-old admitted the offences in full during a second interview and confirmed that neither his family nor his partner had been involved.
Insurer Direct Line doubted the legitimacy of one of McCollum’s claims, and so referred the case to the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED).
Investigations uncovered that McCollum had forged documents to substantiate his claim and officers also linked him to a second fraudulent claim associated with his parents’ policy.
Direct Line records revealed that a travel insurance policy was purchased under the name of McCollum’s partner in November 2017, the day before the policyholder was supposedly due to travel to the US for a one-week trip.
McCollum, pretending to be his partner, called Direct Line to report that he had undergone surgery for an ear injury whilst abroad and claimed that he had settled the £13,244 in costs for the surgery and treatment upfront and now wanted to recover the money through his policy.
When the insurer asked for documentation to prove the claim, McCollum provided an e-ticket receipt from a major airline, an invoice from a hospital in Florida, a medical certificate signed by a UK doctor, and a bank statement showing the payment for the medical costs.
However, checks with the hospital in Florida revealed that they had no record of the claimant receiving treatment, while both the e-ticket flight receipt and bank statement were proven to be falsified.
Upon review of the phone calls to the insurer, McCollum’s Northern Irish accent was picked up indicating that it was McCollum – who grew up in this region – making the calls, as opposed to his partner who has an English accent.
IFED officers conducted a raid of McCollum and his partner and during the search found McCollum attempting to destroy evidence by tearing up documents and trying to eat them, before being restrained by officers.
Alongside evidence indicating his involvement in the claim under his partner’s name, the team also found a medical form for McCollum’s mother.
Direct Line confirmed that a payment of £8,877 had been made for a claim under a policy associated with McCollum’s parents and further enquiries unearthed striking similarities to the initial claim under investigation.
McCollum, pretending to be his father, had contacted the insurer to report that his wife had undergone gall bladder surgery while in Florida and that they had paid for the treatment upfront. The documents supplied to support the claims were again found to have been falsified.
Mike Brown, head of counter fraud intelligence at Direct Line, said the insurer was delighted that the perpetrator of this fraud had been brought to justice.
“We detect and deter as much fraud as possible, using a collaborative approach including sophisticated data analysis, the use of intelligence and investigations by our highly skilled investigators, across our whole business,” he said.
“We work with all law enforcement agencies to assist them in preparing cases for criminal prosecution and this case was a prime example of how our relationship with IFED led to a conviction.
“Successful prosecutions like this one, protect the wider public and enables us to protect the premiums of our innocent customers. This sentence should serve as a stark warning to others that insurance fraud is not a victimless crime and harsh sentences will be sought in support of our zero-tolerance approach.”
Also commenting on the case, detective constable Stuart Osborne said: “McCollum’s guilt was evident from the moment IFED officers stepped into his home and he attempted to destroy incriminating evidence by eating it.
“Unfortunately for him, our officers were still able to seize implicating evidence showing he was planning to execute another similar plot in the next few days.
“This is the second sentencing for an IFED investigation relating to travel insurance fraud in just over a month. These results reinforce the fact that this crime is taken seriously by both IFED and the industry, and should act as a stark warning for anyone considering committing this type of fraud.”