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Police offer ‘stolen’ mobe insurance fraud amnesty

Investigating bogus reports costs UK forces millions

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Punters who cheated on their insurance to get a new mobile are been offered an opportunity to come clean without getting nicked.

South Yorkshire Police has established a month-long amnesty for people who falsely reported mobile phone thefts to 'fess up and thereby clear up non-existent crimes.

The police force reckons it receives 160 false reports of mobile thefts a month, which cost it £1 million a year to investigate. This problem that is replicated across Britain. The National Mobile Phone Crime Unit reckons that between 15-20 per cent of mobile phone theft reports in the UK are bogus.

People make bogus reports in order to get an upgrade largely on their own initiative, but false claims are sometimes encouraged by unscrupulous mobile phone shop staff hunting for extra commission, police suspect.

Detective Superintendent Paul Broadbent told the BBC: "At the moment we've got a number, albeit a small number, of shop assistants who we believe are encouraging people to commit a crime or to take part in a crime."

Police have sent letters to retailers warning them that it will prosecute any caught encouraging fraudulent claims after the end of the amnesty.

Sometimes punters who have lost their phone falsely report it as stolen in order to claim on insurance. People attempt to kid themselves they're doing nothing wrong in lying to police and insurance companies.

"People don't see it as a criminal offence. They see it as fiddling their insurance," DS Broadbent added.

South Yorkshire police have established a free phone number - 0500 510999 - where punters will be able to withdraw false mobile phone theft reports. The line, which opened on Monday (March 15), runs until April 15. ®

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