Stephen Karl Oates (pictured right), 26 of Bournemouth, who worked for LV, was sentenced to 12 months for receiving a bribe after being found guilty of passing on confidential information. Aisha Elliot (pictured left), 23, from Yeovil, was also sentenced to 12 months after she offered a bribe to Oates for the data when she was working at claims management firm Elkador Finance.
The pair were charged with bribery in September at a hearing at Bournemouth Magistrates Court in September, before being bailed to appear at Bournemouth Crown Court later in the year.
The ruling marks the first successful conviction carried out by the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) for an act of bribery.
Detective chief inspector Oliver Little from the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department said: “Fraud within the insurance industry is taken extremely seriously – whether it’s members of the public looking to submit false claims for a profit, or indeed members of staff that think it is acceptable to sell on customer data.
“The outcome shows how it is possible to work closely with the insurance industry to ensure that criminal cases such as these are thoroughly investigated and that the culprits are brought to justice. This case should act as a warning to all insurers and highlight the fact that there are a number of unscrupulous fraudsters out there who will target insurance staff to try and get customer data and information from them.”
Early in 2015, LV approached IFED to ask for Elliot and Oates, a consultant in LV’s third party team, to be investigated after the insurer suspected one of its computer systems had been accessed and information sold by an LV employee to Elkador Finance.
LV grew suspicious when it was contacted by a third party enquiring about its car hire, which, when investigated was found not to have been repaired by LV, meaning the firm would not be offering a rental vehicle. The third party told LV he had been contacted by a company called Select which had his customer details and offered him a courtesy car.
Following a full audit of LV’s third party team after the incident, the insurer discovered that Oates had been selling customer data to make a personal profit, benefitting from £150 every time he sold personal data to Elliott and she made a successful claim.
In his confession to police, Oates said he had been writing personal data on pieces of paper and providing these to Elliott at her home, with at least seven names a week being provided at one point, for which Oates received more than £1,000 during that period.
Confiscation proceedings against the pair are due to be carried out.
Martin Milliner, LV= claims director, said: “This is a great outcome for LV= and IFED and the insurance industry overall.
“Data protection is of paramount importance to us and we have rigorous internal systems in place to detect fraudulent activity, which led to the internal investigation of our employee and case handed to IFED. Fraudsters should take note – you won’t get away with it. At LV= we will always seek to bring offenders to account whether they are an unscrupulous claims management company or a rogue employee.”