Cirencester Friendly Society Limited v Parkin [2015] EWHC 1750 (QB).

The facts of this case show that, when investigating a suspected fraud, time spent on the internet researching a suspect’s lifestyle is rarely wasted and can often be illuminating.

Here the Defendant, a Mr Parkin, took out an income protection policy. In the proposal form he denied having suffered from anxiety, chronic fatigue, ME or having taken drugs. Had he correctly answered these questions he should have disclosed he had previously suffered from panic attacks and was a habitual user of cannabis.

Two months after the inception of the policy Mr Parkin claimed that he was suffering from ME and was unable to work. His claim was rejected but a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service was upheld. Mr Parkin was awarded and paid £19,096.

Emboldened, Mr Parkin then made a further claim, this time that he was suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome. Again his claim under the policy was rejected and he made a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service. Yet again he was successful and the complaint was upheld. However this time the Friendly Society did not simply pay up and commenced proceedings.

The Judge put matters as follows:-

Nemesis overtook from Mr Parkin most dramatically because, like so many people nowadays, in particular those who seem minded to seek to perpetrate frauds, he seemed incapable of keeping off the Internet and sharing the true nature of his activities through social media. So it was that it has transpired that, far from being incapable of working and suffering from any such condition as he has described, he is actually an aficionado of a type of sports supercar called “Noble” and seems to have spent the greater part of the last 10 or 12 years refurbishing a Noble sports car and driving it, sometimes racing it, principally in Cyprus”.

The Judge proceeded to overturn the Ombudsman’s findings on the grounds they were obtained by fraud and ordered repayment of the £19,096.

If you have any questions or wish to discuss any issues raised in this blog please contact Simon Lockley. Simon is a Director with our Dispute Management team and a member of the firm’s Civil Fraud Asset Recovery Unit which provides specialist loss recovery and employment advice to corporate victims of workplace fraud.

Please note this information is provided by way of example and may not be complete and is certainly not intended to constitute legal advice. You should take bespoke advice for your circumstances.

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