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Insurance cheats running out of time

Insurance cheats running out of time

Insurance cheats running out of time Insurance cheats stand a greater chance of being identified andtruth-tellers vindicated as a result of new research into detecting lies. Dr Sharon Leal, a research fellow at the University of Portsmouth, is anexpert in detecting deception. She has recently embarked on a £112,000study, funded by a leading insurance fraud investigation firm, to establish‘ground truth’ about how liars behave when making claims. Her research and experiments will come to an end in 2012 and are expected togive insurance fraud investigators the first evidence-based techniques forspotting liars to replace the gadgets and gut instincts they havetraditionally relied upon. An investigation into a claim can be triggered for a range of reasons,including a large claim on a new policy, or the investigator having a gutfeeling that something doesn’t add up. A common trigger for an investigationis when the claimant cannot recall specific details surrounding theincident, such as what the other person was wearing or how many people werein the vicinity at the time. Dr Leal said: ‘Insurance fraud has been on the rise since the recessionbegan and insurance companies are very keen to find a way of beating thosewho cheat. ‘There is a saying, “needs must when the devil rides”, which basically meanswhen times are tough, people are more likely to break the rules. That iscertainly true in the case of insurance fraud. ‘People think if they are telling the truth it will shine out, but itdoesn’t. Insurance investigators waste time and money when they chaseinnocent people. Under these circumstances some innocent people withdrawtheir insurance claim because they can’t cope with the stress of beinginvestigated.’  Insurance fraud investigators have always relied upon a range of tools andinstinct to identify liars, including recording telephone conversations andthen running them through a voice stress analysis machine to decide if theperson is telling the truth. They have also looked for signs such as nervousfidgeting, not looking at the questioner directly, and blinking a lot. But the gadgets and interviewers’ instincts are wholly unreliable, accordingto Dr Leal. She said: ‘Contrary to popular belief, motivated liars do not fidget, averttheir gaze or blink nervously. They are usually calm and have planned theirlies down to the last detail. Also, many people do not see anything wrongwith making a false claim and if they don’t feel nervous or guilty, itfollows that the techniques that rely on these factors will ultimately fail. ‘Even the majority of experts overestimate their ability to spot a lie. Theymight as well toss a coin in the air – their record of finding the cheatswould be the same at about 50:50.’

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