Friday 12 October 2012 by John Hyde

The manager of a claims management company who processed fraudulent insurance claims has been jailed for 21 months.

Asif Mallu, 38, organised 10 claims between May and December 2005, making more than £12,000 through solicitors' referral fees, courtesy car hire and the recovery of vehicles involved. Mallu (pictured), who ran 24/7 Direct Claims Ltd in Bolton, acted within a crime network that included Mohammed Patel, convicted in 2009 of deliberately causing 90 collisions.

Patel would earn a fee for driving cars belonging to anyone willing to give up their car key and insurance details. Claimants would then demand compensation for personal injury and legal fees at the expense of the other party's insurers.

Their scam was exposed in 2005 when workers at an office block on a roundabout in Cheadle noticed the regularity with which collisions were taking place at the same spot. They noted the collisions were always at low speed and often involved the same driver.

AXA Insurance, one of the companies affected, investigated and presented its findings to Greater Manchester Police, which began Operation Contact.

Chief Inspector Mark Dexter said Mallu's company was registered under the terms of the Ministry of Justice and had a visible business in Bolton that served as a 'front for fraud'.

He added: 'The scam left these victims feeling cheated and violated, often with their premiums increased, so the idea that this is a victimless crime is nonsense.'

Mark Beales, director of law enforcement at Bolton-based law firm Keoghs, said Mallu's company was the key to allowing fraudulent claims to happen.

'So called "professional enablers" are the conduit for fraudsters to pursue fraudulent insurance claims. They are the portal for fraud through which claims are legitimised allowing fraudsters to succeed.'

Mallu, of Jedburgh Avenue, Bolton, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court. As well as the custodial sentence, he was ordered to pay a confiscation order of £7,250 within 28 days.

As a result of Operation Contact, which was supported by the Insurance Fraud Bureau, 50 people have been convicted.

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