COMPO culture took a sinister turn in Newbridge recently (June 22) when a woman who claimed to be pregnant allegedly put some broken glass in her mouth in an effort to instigate a bogus insurance claim.
However, she attempted to do so in full view of the CCTV cameras in the popular Edward Street eatery Judge Roy Beans.
“That’s exactly the reason we went public,” said owner Vivian Carroll.
“A foot out of shot either side and I was in big trouble,” he added.
One of Mr Carroll’s staff attended the seemingly choking customer who claimed the broken glass was definitely from her food and that she was pregnant.
After reviewing the footage almost immediately he called the Guards before going out and stalling the claimant before they arrived.
However, they only took the woman ‘s name and address before letting her go, according to Mr Carroll, despite her being suspected of attempting the same scam in at least two other notable eateries in Kildare.
“Was I surprised that it happened? No,” he said resignedly.
“I knew by them it was going to be an issue,” he said.
The Nationalist asked if he knew the alleged scammer, and he said: “I want to scream it from the rooftops but obviously I can’t”.
“This is not the first ridiculous claim…but it’s the first with glass,” he admitted.
Mr Carroll, who also has the franchise in Killenard, as well as Edward Harrigans in Newbridge, told The Nationalist: “My insurance [premiums] has more than tripled since I opened my doors [just over nine years ago]”.
“My first claim was a woman I knew. Found her on the stairs with her boot off. Said not to worry, not on me, borrowed boots were too big. And just before the end of the two-year limit she puts in a claim for €80,000.
“I could give them [the insurance company] footage of her dancing at a party no problem at all…they put a private investigator on it and he got footage of her walking without a limp, and when I said ‘we got her’ they disagreed saying ‘she could claim it was just a good day’,” he lamented.
“It was a blatant fraudulent case,” he stated.
“I was lucky to open my doors this year..I’ve 80 staff lucky to keep a job,” he said.
“Judges paying out ridiculous awards for exaggerated claims, yet we’re the ones who have to make the premium payments IF we get covered,” he pointed out.
Last week it was the hair pull, and put it in the food. Shouting and roaring at the manager, pushed past and ran out without paying €126”.
The footage can be viewed on the VFIpubs website.
Meanwhile Fianna Fáil TD for Kildare North, Frank O’Rourke said the shocking video clip is yet another horrific example of the need to tackle insurance fraud.
He said small businesses are continuing to suffer due to lack of Government action on the matter. He said there needs to be harsher sanctions on those who are convicted of insurance fraud.
“This brazen and blatant attempt to defraud a business in Kildare is disgusting. It’s a clear illustration of what small businesses up and down the country are up against. The individual should feel the full vigour of the law but unfortunately there is no practical way of prosecuting somebody for insurance fraud.
“For perpetrators, there is no downside or deterrent. Currently, the worst that can happen is that the case is simply thrown out. Of course, the defendant is often stuck with large legal expenses defending themselves against a fraudulent claim.
“Fianna Fáil is the only party which is pushing the insurance reform agenda and has brought forward the majority of legislation relating to insurance during this Dáil term. Our Civil Liability and Courts (Amendment) Bill 2019 will ensure that those who bring fraudulent claims will have to pay the legal expenses for the defendant. This would at least ensure that they will not walk away scot-free when they are convicted”, he concluded.