Footballer claims £55k for injuries – then wonder goal is shown on Soccer AM
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A footballer got a nasty shock when his wonder goal was shown on Soccer AM and triggered an insurance fraud probe.
Callum Saunders had asked for a £55,000 payout after a car accident.
The amateur star, 33, told insurers Aviva he could not play football or work as a plasterer because of injuries to his right foot.
But his goal against Three Bridges FC appeared on YouTube and Sky’s Soccer AM. It was titled: “The cleanest strike you’ll see today.”
Damian Rourke, who led the investigation, said: “Callum Saunders may well have been feeling happy about his Soccer AM appearance. But, in the end, it turned out to be a massive own goal.”
Saunders’ claim came after his white van was involved in a smash. Aviva called in lawyers after concerns about his evidence in the claim.
They believed he was exaggerating the extent of his injury to boost his payout. Investigators at Clyde & Co began a forensic examination of the midfield player’s social media.
They found his Twitter account contained multiple posts about playing for West Sussex side Haywards Heath in the Isthmian League. The team’s YouTube channel posted footage of him playing several times.
The video of his goal against Three Bridges was seen more than 25,000 times on the Facebook page and 12,500 times on Twitter.
It shows Saunders striking the ball from the halfway line with his right foot – the one he claimed was injured. He scored twice in Haywards Heath’s 4-3 win.
A few weeks later he signed a document claiming he was “at a permanent disadvantage on the open labour market”. Saunders asked for £17,300 in compensation for this alone.
Saunders, who now plays for Horsham FC in the Isthmian League Premier Division, was confronted with the key TV evidence from the Soccer AM show.
A judge at Brighton County Court decided his claim was “fundamentally dishonest”. Saunders had to agree to withdraw it and to pay £5,000 costs.
Mr Rourke, of Clyde & Co, said: “Having consistently lied to increase the amount of money he thought he could claim, our investigation showed that he behaved dishonestly.”
Aviva’s Rob Lee said: “Saunders clearly believed his minor injury claim was an open goal. What he didn’t count on is that Aviva is determined to tackle fraudulent claims and stop fraudsters in their tracks.”
We have approached Mr Saunders for a comment on the case.
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