Social networking sites used to confirm information given when making claims

Insurers are capitalising on the rise in popularity of Twitter to string together evidence against fraudsters, industry experts say.

In one ongoing case, a household-name insurer has used Twitter, in conjuction with other social networking sites, to help save an estimated £264,000 on a claim for a staged accident.

The insurer used the websites to piece together relationships between a bus driver and 22 of his friends making personal injury claims, despite his initial denial of any links.

Head of casualty fraud at law firm Weightmans, Andrew Gillett, said the piecing together of friendships between suspects on social networking sites was a good way to establish links.

He said Twitter had overtaken other social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook as the greatest source for gathering evidence.

Gillett said: “With Twitter, you get a burst of information and messages. People start logging on and they can send two or three messages at once, so we are finding it more useful than Facebook. People tend to post a lot more information, and throughout the day.”

Gillett said his firm was involved in a case in which a woman claimed she was too ill to drive. But an investigation through social networking sites revealed that she was co-driving for a Subaru rally team in her spare time.

Insurance Fraud Bureau board member Richard Davies said the information on social networking sites was publicly available and could be used as evidence.

He said: “Certainly, social networking sites are a source of information that many internal teams will trawl through to make sure what they are being told is correct.

“It is publicly available information, so we can use that information. There has been concern over privacy settings on Facebook, but it is up to Facebook to make sure that people share what they want to share.”