Jail for mum in £340,000 pet insurance scam

A claims adviser at the centre of two sophisticated pet insurance frauds that cost her employer and another company more than £340,000 has been jailed for two years.


Mother-of-two Danielle Exley worked for Royal Bank of Scotland Insurance Services Ltd at its offices in Pudsey.

Through her work she knew what should be submitted for successful claims so customers could be reimbursed for vets’ bills and other expenses.

Using log-in details of innocent colleagues, accounts that already been closed and new fictitious policies, she arranged for fraudulent claims to be paid out, with the cheques going through the accounts of others from the Halifax area who were recruited to the conspiracy in return for a share of the proceeds.

One of those who became involved was Simon Lilley, whom she was seeing for a time when her partner Nicholas Ward had left her, but when she got back together with Ward he was also drawn into the dishonesty, Leeds Crown Court heard yesterday.

Gerald Hendron, prosecuting, said that while that fraud was going on against her employers, Exley also began a second conspiracy against Royal Sun Alliance using her knowledge of the pet insurance market.

In that case policies were taken out and premiums paid then false claims were submitted for the animals allegedly involved, often pretending they had been injured in traffic accidents which required expensive surgery or other veterinary treatment.

Exley created false invoices allegedly paid to veterinary practices using her own number and left a message on her telephone answering machine purporting to be them giving opening times and other details in case of potential queries.

When her home was searched after the offences came to light officers found notebooks with details of the claims so she could give the correct answers in case of inquiries.

Mr Hendron said 144 transactions were involved in the conspiracies, with a loss to the Royal Bank of £275,400. It would have been another £46,000 but some cheques were stopped before they were cashed. The loss to Royal Sun Alliance was £69,385.

Exley accepted benefiting by around £100,000, some of which paid for furniture, loans and private health treatment for a member of her family.

Christopher Haddock for Exley said the offences had spiralled and once she got on the “merry-go-round” she did not know how to stop.

Jailing Exley, Judge James Spencer QC said her deception was “professional”.

Exley, 28, of Buckstones Close, Holywell Green, Halifax, admitted two charges of conspiracy to defraud. Ward, 31, of the same address, was jailed for 14 months and Lilley, 39 of Hillcrest, Burnley Road, Halifax, for 16 months after they admitted the same offences.

Duncan Smithies, 32 of Battinson Street, Southowram, received nine months in prison suspended for 12 months with 250 hours unpaid work and Paula Taylor, 28, of Sunnybank Crescent, Greetland, was given a 12-month community order with 150 hours unpaid work after they admitted both conspiracies.

Admitting the Royal Bank of Scotland conspiracy alone were William Young, 30, of Pye Nest Drive, who was given nine months in prison suspended for 12 months with 300 hours unpaid work; Gary Mulcahy, 26, of West View, Holywell Green, given nine months suspended for 12 months with 200 hours unpaid work; Andrew Noctor, 28, of Hillcrest, Burnley Road, Gemma Ford, 29, of Backhold Lane, and Stephen Prag, 33 of Railway Terrace, were each given 12-month community orders with 150 hours unpaid work.

Scott Roper, 35, of Shaw Hill, Sowerby Bridge, who admitted money laundering, was sentenced to nine months in prison suspended for 12 months with 200 hours unpaid work and Pippa Wright, of Brougham Terrace, Southowram, who admitted one charge of money laundering was given a 12-month community order with a three-month curfew from 9pm to 7am.