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Hotel owner sentenced for £34,500 benefits fraud

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Hotel owner sentenced for £34,500 benefits fraud

Richard Moore, owner of the Victoria hotel in Walshaw, Greater Manchester, has been sentenced after fraudulently claimed £34,483 in disability benefits.

Moore was today sentenced to 14 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, at Manchester Crown Court (Minshull Street). He was also given 100 hours of community service and a 15-day rehabilitation course. He had previously pleaded guilty to one count of fraud by false representation in February this year.

The City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) led on the criminal investigation, and first became aware of Moore’s fraudulent activity via a referral from Aviva Insurance.

Moore had taken out an income protection policy with Aviva in 2008, which replaces an individual’s income when they’re unable to work as a result of illness or injury. IFED discovered that he began claiming benefits in November 2013, after he reportedly became depressed and anxious and subsequently stopped working.

A year later, he started working again at a different company, but didn’t notify Aviva. He then went onto work for three other companies across a three-year period, without informing Aviva.

In 2017, Moore took part in a health review conducted by Aviva. In reply to the questions posed to him he confirmed that he hadn’t worked since he first became incapacitated, he couldn’t return to do any part of his occupation and his condition was getting worse.

After his health review, Aviva launched an internal investigation into Moore. It uncovered evidence, including several regional news articles, which suggested he was the managing director/owner of the Victoria hotel. On top of this, Aviva carried out two days of surveillance on Moore, which proved that he was indeed working at the hotel.

In October 2017, Aviva terminated his policy and made him aware of this. He claimed that he’d sent an email back to Aviva a few days after their initial contact, apologising for providing incorrect employment details and asking how much money he was required to pay.

However, analysis of this alleged email showed that it had been created in October 2018 and therefore couldn’t have been sent the year before as he claimed.

In total, Moore claimed £46,326 of benefit payments, of which £34,483 was paid to him while he was working. If he had continued to receive these payments, which were due to last until 2050, he would have fraudulently benefited to the sum of £413,000.

Detective Constable Kevin Carter, who led the investigation for the IFED said: “Moore took full advantage of the financial support provided to him by his income protection insurance policy from Aviva. He worked multiple jobs across several years, without ever notifying his insurer, and was even brazen enough to take ownership of a hotel and pose for pictures with awards for the regional press.

“It’s clear that Moore had no intention of stopping and would’ve gone on to fraudulently claim an even greater sum of money, if not for the IFED’s joint investigation with Aviva, which exposed his lies and ensured he was brought to justice.”

Jacqueline Kerwood, governance and philosophy manager for individual protection claims at Aviva, said: “We are pleased with today’s sentencing, which highlights the severity of Mr Moore’s actions in deceiving Aviva in an attempt to claim more than £400,000. Aviva soon realised Mr Moore had not been forthcoming with his various jobs, and our investigation and referral to IFED brought an end to his audacious scam. Today’s sentencing makes the point that insurance fraud is a crime and if you commit insurance fraud, it is very likely you will be caught and prosecuted – as Mr Moore has learned the hard way.

“Aviva has a zero-tolerance approach to fraud and will investigate and bring to justice those who attempt to defraud Aviva and our customers. These bogus claims put pressure on premiums for honest customers who rely on the safety net that protection policies provide.”

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