A FRAUDSTER from Timperley who falsely claimed thousands in compensation after a crash was on holiday in Egypt when she was supposed to be at a physiotherapy appointment.

Natalie Hasford, 32, of Riddings Road, was caught out making a false claim worth almost £4,000.

In May 2014, insurer Aviva was told of an incident between one of its customers, who was driving a Ford Transit, and a Range Rover in Greater Manchester.

The solicitors for the passengers of the Range Rover pursued a personal injury claim for Hasford, who was allegedly in the backseat of the vehicle at the time.

In the months after the crash, Hasford attended an examination where her ‘injuries’ were assessed.

She disclosed on a form that she still suffered from 'ongoing discomfort' in her neck, shoulders, and lower back, despite not attending A&E or her GP surgery following the incident.

The medical report written up after her examination concluded that she had suffered whiplash and that her condition would likely persist for nine to 12 months.

The assessor also noted that Hasford still remembered being 'thrown from side to side' in the crash.

To help her recover from her injuries, Aviva submitted an invoice for 20 physiotherapist sessions, which cost the insurer £1,290 in total.

Hasford was then offered a settlement of £3,700.43 by Aviva, for the personal injury claim, and after deducting solicitors' fees, she received £2,800.48 into her bank account.

An Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) specialist investigation flagged Hasford’s involvement in the incident, which led the City of London police to look into the legitimacy of her claim.

The investigators spoke to the physiotherapist named as the treatment provider in Hasford’s claim, who noted the high number of sessions allocated for the level of her ‘injury’.

According to their investigation, 20 physiotherapy appointments would be offered to an individual in significant levels of pain, rather than the ‘injuries’ Hasford had described.

IFED officers interviewed Hasford, who initially answered ‘no comment’ to all questions posed.

When challenged by officers on the fact she was on holiday in Egypt on two of the dates she had supposedly received physiotherapy, Hasford broke down and admitted to fraud.

Hasford confessed that she had not been a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the crash, and that she had lied during the medical examination in order to support her claim.

She also admitted that she had not attended any of the physiotherapy sessions prescribed to her.

Abdelkader Rezkallah, of City of London Police’s IFED unit, said: "Hasford alleged she was enticed to commit this fraud by the offer of making quick and easy money.

"However, this decision has ended up costing her far more in the long run in the form of a criminal record and a tarnished reputation.

"The defendant has shown remorse for her actions, providing us with a full and frank admission of her wrongdoing early into our investigation. I hope today’s outcome has shocked Hasford into sense and will prevent her from straying onto a fraudulent path again."

Hasford admitted to fraud by false representation at Westminster Magistrates' Court in October.

She was sentenced to a 12-month community order and 120 hours of unpaid work when she appeared for sentencing at Manchester Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, November 18.

She was also ordered to repay the money she falsely claimed from Aviva.

Carl Mather, a Special Investigations Unit manager at Aviva said: "This case highlights why the recent whiplash reforms were introduced. It is not just payment to individual fraudsters which have inflated insurance premiums, but also the ancillary (and unnecessary) costs these claims attract.

"Aviva has a duty to our customers and will always take appropriate action, including the recovery of losses, when fraud is identified.

"Natalie Hasford’s conviction is a deterrent to others who may believe committing insurance fraud is a chance worth taking. She should be credited for admitting the offence and expressing remorse, but today’s sentencing has left an indelible stain on her character."

Mr Mather added: "Furthermore, the compensation she is obliged to pay Aviva has ensured she can take no positives whatsoever from this experience.

"Aviva is committed to the detection of fraud and prosecution of offenders, and today’s outcome will benefit genuine policyholders and ensure they are not made to pay for the fraudulent actions of others."