Scarcely a week goes by here at the Bankstone News Newsroom without fresh tidings of yet another hilariously inept attempt at motor insurance fraud.

This week’s preposterous tale involves Llandeilo burger van baron Kirk William Dickup-Lewis, 61, who contacted insurance provider FU Mutual in August 2013 to lodge a supremely optimistic and somewhat less than entirely truthful claim for £300,000 compensation in respect of damage supposedly caused to two of his vans by a wayward tractor.

At first sight, his story must have seemed entirely plausible. A neighbour, Dickup-Lewis alleged, had been carrying out some work on his fence when he forgot to leave the brakes on as he hopped down from the cab for a fag break or something, thus accidentally allowing said tractor to career backwards down an incline. This turned out to be the dramatic prelude to the farm vehicle’s striking, not one, but two of Lewis’ treasured vans where they stood innocently parked-up in his yard. Upon the neighbour’s wandering down to the scene of the impact and thereafter attempting to drive his tractor back up the hill, Lewis claimed, both vans abruptly burst into flame, with such vigour that the neighbour reluctantly concluded there was nothing to be done but let the conflagration take its course. Net result: two state-of-the-art catering vans utterly destroyed, and all their priceless kit gone with them.

So far so verisimilitudinous, you’re probably thinking. It’s the kind of thing that happens every day in places like South Wales. But what made FU Mutual just the tiniest bit curious were the eye-watering values greedy Lewis attached to his vans. The pair – plus all the top of the range kit with which he said he’d fitted them out – were worth, Lewis contended, not a penny less than £167,000. And then, of course, there was the small but regrettably inescapable matter of the £150,000 loss of earnings Lewis would inevitably incur due to the out-of-action-ness of the incinerated vehicles.

Hullo Bryn,” some FU Mutual bloke, will probably have said down a phone line some time after the claim came in, “We’ve got a chap in Llandeilo we’d like you to pop down and have a little chat with…

Upon arrival at Lewis’ Carmarthenshire compound, Bryn, or whatever the claims inspector’s name really was, was told “Oh, yes, those vans have been, um, sold,” or some such nonsense. When asked if he could provide details of said transaction and/or supply their respective Vehicle Identification Numbers, Lewis was evasive on the first point and confessed, with a heavy heart, that the VINs had, alas, been utterly consumed in the raging inferno in which the vans had been so tragically immolated.

When FU Mutual subsequently asked Lewis to provide evidence of the purchase values of the vehicles for which he was claiming (or at least evidence of their having existed in the first place), he was initially unable to produce any kind of documentation. Shortly thereafter, however, Lewis reported that invoices for both vehicles had happily come to light. Regrettably, upon closer inspection these invoices turned out to be but artless forgeries, leaving FU Mutual with little choice but to call in the FEDs (a crack team of fraud-busting superheroes based in faraway London).

No, wait, pleaded Lewis, I’ve just remembered, I bought those vans from some travellers. Those invoices I sent you were for some other vans that someone else must have bought and left the invoices lying around where I found them. If those weren’t boner fido invoices, it’s nothing to do with me. In fact, the people I bought those vans from might have been the same travellers I sold them to after they’d been torched. You never know with travellers. That’s why I couldn’t show you any paperwork, you see. It’s like those hippies up in Tipi Valley. They’re a queer lot and no mistake. There was this one time…”

But even as Lewis twisted pitifully in the onrushing winds of justice and truth, the sound of sirens howled and echoed around the western outcrops of the Brecon Beacons and the net was finally closing around this would-be über-fraudster.

On 17 June this year Lewis was duly sentenced to be suspended for two years and ordered to pay £37,464 in costs to FU Mutual, £2,800 in court costs and – perhaps most dauntingly – a victim surcharge of £100.

DC Amen Taylor of the FEDs said Lewis was nothing but a dirty rotten liar and that his actions “should serve as a warning to anyone to think twice before making false insurance claims.” Thinking even once might have given Lewis a better chance of success with his ill-fated fraudulousness. But second thoughts, one feels we may safely assume, would have been way beyond his intellectual capabilities.

FU Mutual fraud manager Rob Spiegelhalter said: “The court’s decision sends a strong message to those who might be tempted to commit insurance fraud.” That message, presumably, is get your story straight and your paperwork in order before you go claiming hundreds of thousands of pounds from your neighbour’s insurer.



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