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Criminal gang sentenced following five year investigation

On Tuesday 21 March 2017 six people were sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court for their involvement in a series of sophisticated frauds that caused companies throughout the UK to lose over half a million pounds.

James Darren Conroy, aged 48, from Wokingham Grove, Liverpool, Susanna Connor, aged 44, also from Wokingham Grove, Liverpool, Adrian Michael Gate aged 47, from Plas Madoc, Wrexham, John Norman Slater, aged 66, from French Barn Lane, Manchester, Andrew Dodman, aged 52, of no fixed abode and Mohammed Uddin, aged 29, from Franklin Close, Oldham all played a part in a range of fraudulent activity worth over £530,000.

Following a five year investigation by detectives from the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Investigation Department (IFED) the group were sentenced to the following:  

James Darren Conroy - Four years imprisonment for ten counts of Conspiracy to Commit Fraud by False Representation

Susanna Connor – 20 months imprisonment suspended for 18 months, 20 day rehabilitation requirement and 200 hours of unpaid work for four counts of Conspiracy to commit Fraud by False Representation.

Adrian Michael Gate – 14 months suspended for 18 months and a three month curfew for one count of Conspiracy to commit Fraud by False Representation.

John Norman Slater – 12 months suspended for 18 months and a 12 month supervision requirement for two counts of Conspiracy to commit Fraud by False Representation.

Andrew Dodman – Four months imprisonment to run concurrent with an unrelated prison sentence for three counts of Conspiracy to commit Fraud by False Representation.

Mohammed Uddin – Conditional discharge for six months for one count of Conspiracy to commit Fraud by False Representation

The five year investigation saw officers uncover a range of fraudulent activity committed by the group. Conroy was an instrumental part in the various frauds that took place which included fraud against a number of solicitors firms, funeral plan companies and insurers. The extent of the criminality unravelled after Conroy was arrested by officers and the investigation unearthed a complex series of fraud.

The fraudulent activity started in 2011 when the company Hadgate Claims was formed, with the director listed as Adrian Gate and the company bank accounts listed in his name. Hadgate Claims was, to the outside world, a claims management company that referred personal injury claims from road traffic accidents to solicitors and claims management companies in return for a fee. In fact the company was referring fraudulent and in the main completely fictitious claims that would never proceed past the initial submission stages.

Although Gate appeared to be running the company it was actually Conroy who was the person speaking to companies and organising referrals. Over £295,000 was paid into the Hadgate Claims bank account in the form of referral fees between July 2011 and August 2014. Of this total, Gate received £8,450 from Conroy for assisting with the fraud.

Conroy stopped working with Gate and turned to Slater who set-up a bank account and company under the name Harvey Davenport.  Although the company director and bank account had changed, the solicitors and claims management companies that were paying the referral fees still thought that they were dealing with Hadgate Claims. Again Conroy was running the show and receiving the vast majority of the cash benefit. Nearly £94,000 was paid to this company’s bank account with Slater given just over £800 for assisting with the fraud.

In March 2012 a referral was made to IFED by an insurance company. They had concerns about a number of accidents that had been submitted to them, as they were unable to get hold of the policyholders and it came to light that most of these referrals had originated from Hadgate Claims.

Around the same time, representatives of a firm of solicitors in Merseyside made a complaint to their local police about being defrauded out of referral fees for a number of personal injury claims referred to them by Hadgate Claims and this matter was also passed to IFED to investigate.

In May 2014 IFED officers arrested Conroy, Gate and Slater. At that time a search was conducted at Conroy’s address, which identified a number of other fraudulent enterprises that he and others, including his wife, Connor, had been involved in.

Following the arrest, investigating officers discovered that Conroy had evolved his fraudulent activity;  legislation introduced in 2013 meant his company could no longer make claims management referrals to solicitors. In reaction to this, Conroy set-up the company Profit (NW) which he used to start defrauding funeral plan companies. This company morphed into Information Station in 2013 and Connor assisted with setting-up of the new company and two other companies; City Financial Services and Your Money Legal.

Andrew Dodman was brought on board by Conroy as an employee of Information Station. Dodman assisted in facilitating fraudulent activity by completing fake sales calls in front of funeral plan companies so that they would sign-up with Information Station.  After paying over £142,000 to Information Station, the main funeral plan company realised that they were finding it difficult to contact the people referred to them and they stopped working with Conroy and Dodman.

After their main contract was terminated in late October 2014, Conroy submitted a fraudulent business interruption claim, after a burglary in November 2014 that occurred at the Information Station business premises. The claim was for nearly £590,000 with James Conroy stating that his business was affected by the loss of a significant amount of equipment and they would be unable to operate.  The company involved only paid out £10,750 before Conroy cancelled the claim.

Conroy was also involved in a crash for cash scam with the assistance of Mohammed Uddin who allowed his details to be used in a fictitious accident and personal injury claim.

Detective Sergeant, Matthew Hussey on behalf of IFED, City of London Police said: “This sentencing is the result of a five year investigation which has seen officers uncover multiple offences committed by this group of unscrupulous fraudsters.

“The offenders used their experience of working in the claims management industry to their complete advantage and would not stop even when legislation got in their way.

“By working across the insurance industry and with the group’s victims we have achieved this result which has finally seen this criminal gang brought to justice”.

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