Fire insurance fraudsters imprisoned

A fast-food owner and his brother have been given custodial sentences after making a fraudulent claim about their involvement in a fire at their premises in Birmingham.

As detailed in a recent press release by Allianz, business owner Mohammad Suleyman submitted a claim, estimated at £280,000, for fire damage to his business following a blaze at his fast-food restaurant in April 2018.

Concerns arose over the validity of the claim and the cause of the fire after it was found that both Suleyman and his brother Mohammed Yusuf had “visited hospital with burn injuries to Mr Yusuf on the date of the fire”.

As Insurance Business Magazine reports, this was inconsistent with the accounts given by the brothers, with Allianz explaining: “Mr Suleyman’s witness statement regarding the events leading up to the fire included being held at gunpoint, with Sedgwick being advised Mr Yusuf sustained the burn injuries from working on a vehicle.”

Further investigations were carried out by West Midlands Police and Sedgwick, a claims management and loss adjusting company appointed by Allianz, and a forensics report confirmed that the fire was “almost certainly started by perpetrators who broke in”.

Appearing at Birmingham Crown Court on 19 March 2024, Suleyman and Yusuf pleaded guilty to fraud and arson, respectively.

At the sentencing, which took place on 2 April 2024, Suleyman was ordered to three years and seven months in prison for “fraud by giving a false statement”. Pleading guilty to arson, Yusuf was sentenced to four years and six months imprisonment.

Both Sedgwick and West Midlands Police believed that Mr Suleyman’s version of events and motives were of concern. With enough evidence in hand, charges were brought against both Mr Suleyman and Mr Yusuf which resulted in their prison sentences,” Allianz reports.

James Burge, head of counter fraud at Allianz Commercial said: “This is a fantastic result for us. The collaboration between Sedgwick, the Police, and us brought Mr Suleyman to justice and it highlights the lengths that dishonest claimants will go to – and the hard work that we continue to do to bring them to account.”

Commenting on the case, Ian Carman, Director and Head of Forensic and Investigation Services at Sedgwick, said: “This case demonstrates that there really is no hiding place for insurance fraudsters. The combined investigative efforts of Allianz, our commercial investigations team and the West Midlands Police evidence how seriously insurers take their duty to tackle the dishonest minority. I’m pleased that our deployment of highly specialised investigative resource was able to produce such a positive result for the industry and their honest customers.