Damian McMenzie, 36, from North Tyneside yesterday received a two-year suspended sentence for fraud by abuse of position at Newcastle Crown Court.
He had worked as household claims negotiator and exploited access to his employer’s systems to defraud the company.
McMenzie started working for the insurer in 2011, managing reports of household damage from clients, as well as agreeing settlements and processing payments up to £10,000 without seeking further authority.
However, he reviewed the system to find genuine claims that were approaching the end of their lifespan. Once he had located a suitable claim, McMenzie would add a further payment directed to his personal bank account.
In order to process payments higher than his personal £10,000 limit, McMenzie later confirmed in an interview that he gained access to his supervisors’ passwords by looking over their shoulder while they logged into the system.
The offences were discovered by colleagues when a customer reported that they had not received the payments associated with their claim on the system.
A review was conducted into the computer system, which uncovered over fifty payments that were all made to the same bank account in McMenzie’s name.
The case was referred to the City of London Police’s insurance fraud enforcement department (IFED) by the company for investigation.
During an interview with IFED officers, McMenzie admitted to the offences in full, explaining that the money was used to clear ‘payday’ loans which he had taken out to cover losses from gambling.
Detective constable Deborah O’Loughlin-Whitby, from the City of London Police’s insurance fraud enforcement department, said: “McMenzie faced financial difficulties because of a gambling addiction and should have sought help, rather than defrauding his employer and deceiving fellow colleagues who had trusted him.
“The outcome at court for this case reasserts that insurance fraud will not be tolerated by law enforcement, or the judiciary system, no matter the reason behind the crime.”