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Redhill vet jailed for bogus treatment claims
2:00pm Sunday 1st September 2013 in Local News
A veterinary surgeon living in Redhill who conned three insurers out of almost £200,000 by making fictitious treatment claims for non-existent pets, has been jailed for two years.
Matthew Morgan had previously admitted to making a total of 53 bogus insurance claims to four insurers – Direct Line, Petplan, Pet Protect and one other – for dogs and cats that he claimed had undergone surgery between September 2009 and December 2012.
To make his claims appear authentic, the 38-year-old sent the insurers invoices from his then workplace – a veterinary practice in the Blue Bell Hill area of Kent.
He then used the payouts to fund a lavish lifestyle that included expensive holidays and electronics.
But Morgan came unstuck in October 2012 when his one and only claim to Direct Line for surgery on a cat called 'Jo', was identified as fraudulent and referred to the City of London Police's Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED), kicking-off a criminal investigation.
In an interview with IFED detectives on New Year's Eve, Morgan admitted that the claim to Direct Line was phony, but said he had not made any other fake claims. However, 15 days later during January this year, Morgan telephoned Pet Protect to chase up a claim he had made for surgery on a cat called ‘Dizzie.'
IFED detectives subsequently arrested Morgan at his then home in Foxborough Road, Redhill.
They searched his home and new work place – a veterinary practice in St Leonards-On-Sea, East Sussex – where they found documents that led them to uncover other fraudulent claims.
IFED's financial investigator later examined Morgan's bank account and found payments from Petplan, Pet Protect and one other insurer totalling almost £200,000. Further interrogation of his account showed that every time money was received from an insurer he would treat himself. Morgan was charged with, and later pleaded guilty to, four counts of fraud by false representation, in that he made 53 fraudulent claims to four insurers with a total value of £226,360.67.
Appearing at the Old Bailey on Friday, August 23, Morgan was sentenced to two years for each of the four counts of fraud by false representation, to run concurrently.
DS Craig Mullish, who ran IFED's investigation, said: "Morgan was paid a good salary to help sick animals, but over three years he systematically abused his position to claim massive payouts for surgeries on pets that did not exist.”
DS Mullish said: “His sole motivation was to maintain an image of being a successful vet through the portrayal of an extravagant lifestyle.
"Morgan's sentence highlights again how IFED is working with industry to bring insurance fraudsters to justice wherever they are and whatever they do.”
A Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons spokesman said: "We have been liaising with IFED about this case for some time.
“Now that a conviction against Matthew Morgan has been secured and sentence handed down, we will raise an allegation against him and invite him to respond. “The case, as a conviction, will then be passed immediately to our Preliminary Investigation Committee, which will be able to consider the details of the case and decide the most appropriate course of action.”
Ed Barclay, head of pet insurance at Direct Line, said: "We are pleased to have been able to help the police by bringing this fraudster to justice. “Our customers trust veterinary practitioners with the welfare of their much-loved pets and as a consumer champion, Direct Line has zero tolerance for fraudulent or exaggerated claims.”
A representative from Petplan said: "Petplan take insurance fraud incredibly seriously. “Petplan will continue to work with the authorities, including the police and the IFED, to combat this type of behaviour.” Michaela Hedges, claims manager at Pet Protect, said: "We are delighted with today's conviction as it is a direct result of a long collaboration with IFED, pulling together a strong case against Morgan. “It demonstrates not only the need for a specialist police fraud enforcement department, but also how effective they can be identifying complex insurance fraud cases.
"This conviction sends a clear message to potential fraudsters that both insurers and IFED can and will take punitive measures to help stamp out insurance fraud.”
IFED is a specialist police unit dedicated to tackling insurance fraud, funded by members of the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and based at the City of London Police's Economic Crime Directorate.
Its team of detectives and financial investigators acts with operational independence while working closely with the insurance industry.