A fraudster who said he was ‘too injured to work’ has been ordered to pay £13,000 after he was spotted doing martial arts at Ninja Warrior – which he claimed was his twin brother.
Robert Wood was caught on video performing high kicks and swinging from bars.
But the 42-year-old had said the ‘minor car collision’, which saw him struck on the arm by a Peugeot taxi, meant that his neck was injured for three weeks and his right wrist for three years.
He subsequently filed for ‘financial loss and damage’, suing Aviva Insurance for £10,000.
But videos on social media, filmed while Wood was ‘injured and unable to work’, showed him performing an array of moves at the martial arts center.
When questioned, he told Aviva “It’s not me, it’s my twin”, but investigators found his brother had ‘distinctive blonde highlights’ which did not match the brown hair of the man in the video.
He claimed his brother Andrew would give evidence at court but, at the last minute, Wood retracted his claim, admitted he was ‘fundamentally dishonest’ and the hearing at Southampton County Court was vacated.
A judge then ordered him to pay Aviva – which had insured the taxi driver’s vehicle – £13,000 towards its court costs.
The initial accident happened in March 2018 at Town Quay in Southampton.
Wood claimed he was owed £9,925 because of loss of earnings, ‘unquantified care and assistance’.
Elinor Willis, legal director at Clyde & Co, the law firm representing Aviva, said the accident was genuine however suspicions arose Wood had exaggerated his injuries.
According to Aviva, their “severity” did not match what was expected following a minor incident.
The law firm’s investigators looked into the case and they discovered the social media footage taken during the period when Wood claimed he was injured.
This showed him performing martial arts kicks, punches and swinging by his arms from a climbing frame.
Wood, of Chandler’s Ford, near Southampton, denied the videos were of him and insisted they showed his twin brother, Andrew.
A spokesperson for Aviva said: “Mr. Wood said he would provide corroborating evidence from his brother, but no evidence was received.
‘Prior to the final hearing of the case Mr. Wood dropped his claim, but Aviva did not wish for him to walk away and ultimately he agreed to an order that he was fundamentally dishonest and he would pay Aviva £13,000 in costs.”
In total, the court costs amounted to £43,000.
Ms. Willis, a specialist fraud lawyer, said: “Mr. Wood’s attempt to defraud Aviva wasted the court’s valuable time and left him £13,000 worse off.”
“It’s a hard way to learn the lesson that this type of insurance fraud will not be tolerated.”
“Claimants like Mr. Wood may think they’re onto a winner, but we put suspicious claims like these under a microscope.”
Pete Ward, head of fraud at Aviva, added: “We are passionate about defending spurious injury claims, in order to protect our customers from inflated costs.
“This case is a terrific example of Aviva’s robust approach to detecting fraud – specifically, the result of great detective work by our dedicated casualty and bodily injury team, supported by our legal panel, delivering a great outcome for our customers.”