A woman was jailed in December after she exploited the tragic incidents of the Grenfell Tower fire, Manchester Arena Bombing and London Bridge terror attack to make several fraudulent insurance claims, amid a series of other false claims.
Following an investigation by the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED), Ruksana Ashraf, 44, of Polwarth Gardens, Edinburgh, was sentenced at Inner London Crown to three years in prison for fraud by false representation and money laundering offences. Over 15 people have been convicted of various fraud offences in relation to the fire at Grenfell and more are expected to face court in the future.
Ashraf, who hid in her bedroom when IFED officers visited her home to execute a search warrant, was brought to the attention of IFED by insurance company Royal Sun Alliance (RSA). Using internal fraud identification procedures, they noticed similarities in claims that had been made against several different policies.
Despite each policy apparently being taken out by a different person with a different address, the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) were able to confirm Ashraf’s home address following a data protection request. The group of bank accounts used to create the policies and receive funds from the claims were all the same.
Claims exploiting tragic events
Other material was also discovered which revealed claims that IFED weren’t originally aware of. These claims consisted of:
• Grenfell Tower fire: three claims, stating that she was visiting her family and her personal items had been lost in the fire
• Manchester Arena Bombing: two claims, stating that she’d attended the concert with her partner and daughter, but left her items behind when she escaped the venue.
• London Bridge terror attack: one claim, stating that she’d been in the area of the attack and had lost her personal items after being told to run away from the area.
IFED officers also found packs of documents laid out in her bedroom that Ashraf had prepared in advance to make even more fraudulent claims.
In total, Ashraf took out in excess of 70 policies and made over 50 fraudulent insurance claims. The collective amount that she attempted to steal through her fraudulent activity was £179,000, with £50,000 being paid out to her.
DC Pete Gartland, who led the investigation for the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department, said:
“It’s clear that Ashraf is a heartless and selfish individual. She had no qualms in exploiting these tragic events to make a financial gain, showing no empathy for the families of those who lost their lives in some horrific circumstances.
“Her fraudulent activity also impacts the general public, causing insurance premiums to rise for everyone.
Insurance Edge Comment;
How many more fake Grenfell claims? That is the saddest question of all, because cases like this sum up the very worst aspects of human nature. To exploit a terrible event like Grenfell for a quick buck is something most of us could never do, and yet the mainstream media has reported a series of convictions over the last year or so, all of which highlight a deeply malignant, twisted kind of morality in British society.
In some respects, this `get rich at any cost’ attitude is part and parcel of life in London, but there are fraudsters in every area of the UK. Maybe that selfish, venal pursuit of an easy life, quick cash, and the unwritten assumption that insurance companies are somehow fair game, is a mindset that has spread from city to city over the last decade?
The insurance industry must use AI, data analytics and blockchain, to stop the fraudsters in their tracks. Nobody should be able to incept 70 policies without alarm bells ringing, and such customers need close monitoring so that can be red-flagged before making fake claims. There are serial offenders out there, and whole families making a living from it. Because the era of shame at being handed a prison sentence appears to be over.
The only crime in Britain now, is being poor.