Irish insurance scam couple who staged car crash as strangers caught after 'they appeared in each other's Facebook profiles'
A couple who staged a car crash while pretending to be strangers were discovered when the insurance company saw that they appeared in each other's Facebook profile pictures, a court has heard.
David Ward (30) was the front seat passenger in an Opel Corsa which rear-ended the Volkswagen Passat Lynsey Ivory (27) was driving.
Ward and Ivory of The Beeches, Clonshaugh, Priorswood, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to attempting to dishonestly by deception cause a loss to FBD Insurance on dates between July 22, 2013 and January 1, 2014.
Both of them claimed to be suffering injury from the collision but denied to gardaí, who arrived to investigate the crash, that they knew each other.
They were transferred to hospital in the same ambulance during which they continued to pretend to be strangers.
Both Ward and Ivory later submitted a personal injury claim to FBD Insurance during which they again denied knowing the occupants of the other vehicle.
They both made voluntary statements to gardaí outlining what had happened and stating that the people in the other car were strangers.
Garda Neill Plunkett told Martina Baxter BL prosecuting, that a claims handler with FBD examined both Ward's and Ivory's Facebook accounts, having received their claims and noted that they appeared in each other's profile pictures.
The gardaí were contacted and when officers arrived at Ivory's home to arrest her for questioning Ward answered the door.
The court heard that if the couple's claim had been successful they could each have been awarded up to €15,000. The pair will be sentenced tomorrow.
Ward has seven previous convictions for offences including criminal damage and theft, while Ivory has no convictions. The couple have two children and have since married.
Gda Plunkett told Judge Martin Nolan that he had been suspicious of the couple's claims that they were strangers from his first investigation of the collision on Corballis Road, Donabate on July 22, 2013.
He said Ivory told him she had been rear-ended and the driver of the car Ward was travelling in admitted that he had been speeding around a bend on the road and hadn't seen the Passat until it was too late.
Gda Plunkett said the damage caused to both vehicles was inconsistent with the account he was given and the air bags had not been deployed in either vehicle as would be expected.
He said Ivory was still sitting in the driver's seat when he arrived on the scene and she was complaining of neck and back pain. Her passenger, who later transpired to be the wife of the man who was driving the car Ward was in, said she was uninjured.
Ward, who was the front seat passenger of the second vehicle, confirmed his friend's account of how the crash had occurred.
He was removed from the Corsa on a spinal board and was complaining of back pain.
Gda Plunkett said the couple later submitted separate personal injury claims to FBD and provided medical documentation with their applications. It was during the processing of their applications that a handler examined their Facebook accounts and spotted the connection.
Ivory was arrested in February 2014 and accepted that she had lied in her garda statement but claimed she didn't think she needed to tell FBD that she knew the occupants in the other vehicle.
She admitted that it had been a staged accident but denied organising it, stating that she had just gone along with it. She said she was sorry.
Ward was arrested in April 2014 and also accepted that he had lied in order to make a personal injury claim. He said he was offered the opportunity, he needed the money and he didn't think it “was the worst thing in the world to do”.
He told gardaí he was sorry and said it had been his intention to spend his money on his children, mounting bills and to help pay for his upcoming wedding to Ivory.
Justin Dillon BL, defending Ward submitted to Judge Nolan that his client was not the mastermind behind the attempted fraud but had been foolish to go along with it.
He handed in a letter Ward had written to the judge which stated how sorry he was for getting his wife and himself involved.
“We were struggling with money worries at the time. I worry about not being there for my children,” Ward wrote before he asked for a chance, telling the judge “you won't regret it”.
Keith Spencer BL, defending Ivory said his client had learned the same lesson as her husband. She had also written a letter to the court outlining their financial difficulties at the time.
Mr Spencer submitted that although his client participated in the crime it had not been “her brain child”.