|Own goal: Footballer Gary Burnett claimed he had whiplash but was caught offside by his Tweet.|
Footballer scores own goal after tweeting about match 24 hours after making bogus whiplash claim: A semi-professional footballer’s bogus claim for a whiplash injury after a crash at a McDonald’s drive-through was exposed when he tweeted about playing football 24 hours later. Gary Burnett tried to pocket £2,000 for the smash which he claimed left him with shoulder and neck injuries in October 2013.
But the 24-year-old then took to Twitter to update his followers about his side Northwich Victoria’s progress. One day after the accident in Birkenhead, Merseyside, Burnett wrote on Twitter: “Nice little trek to Kendal later for footy” - referring to an away match in the Lake District town. Three weeks later he was on Twitter again bragging about knocking higher ranked team Nantwich Town out of the FA Trophy with a second-half goal.
Investigators from insurance company Aviva tracked his messages and this week won a legal battle to make Burnett pay their court costs. The player, now representing Curzon Ashton FC in the National League North, was ordered by a judge to stump up £11,000.
The part-time window cleaner, of Lowton, Grt Manchester, had claimed the injury left him out of action for four weeks. Burnett’s claim was described as ‘fundamentally dishonest’ by a judge at Wigan County Court who accepted the footballer had misled his solicitors, his medical expert and the insurance company.
Dave Lovely, Aviva claims director, said: “This case highlights how a minor claim can be seen as an open-goal for fraudsters. “However, we are determined to tackle these fraudulent claimants and stop them scoring against us and our customers. “It shows that we will pursue and prosecute those who commit fraud, while taking care of genuine claimants.”
Jared Mallinson, partner at Horwich Farrelly solicitors, representing the insurers, added: “The hapless footballer clearly couldn’t resist boasting about his performance on social media despite claiming to have been unable to play. “The court’s decision to find him fundamentally dishonest is a red card to any would-be fraudster that they will be caught.”