Two Spanish scroungers who cut off their own hands in separate insurance scams have both been exposed as cheats – because they did it so well.
The unnamed men, whose cases are not linked, both thought they could pocket up to £2million if they could invent a convincing enough excuse for their injuries before filing a compensation claim.
They are among a slew of cash-strapped desperados in the recession-ravaged nation who are turning to increasingly extreme measures to make ends meet.
Authorities said the first claimant removed his hand with an electric saw but told insurers it had been ripped off in a car accident.
He then made claims to 11 insurance companies demanding £2million in compensation.
But when medics examined his wound, it became clear that the cut was ‘too clean’ to have been torn in two.
José Luís Nieto, president of Gesterec, which investigates accidents, said: ‘The cut was too clean between the bone for a car crash, which is never so clean.
‘This man might have got someone to use a saw to cut off his hand. A surgeon would never have done it.’
The second man chopped off his arm above the elbow and claimed €600,000 from insurers, saying that he had suffered an accident with an electric saw.
Both cases come amid a steep rise in the number of false insurance claims that have been revealed since Spain plunged into recession in 2008.
The Investigation Co-operative of Insurance Companies (ICEA) said that there had been a 50 per cent increase in the past five years.
‘There is no doubt that there has been a rise in false cases because people do not have any money in the crisis,’ Mr Nieto said.
Even Spain’s criminal gangs are getting a piece of the action, simulating false car crashes and reaping the insurance money by using false names. investigators said they should have won Oscar, such was their web of deceit.
The extraordinary insurance scams came to light a month after a man in Austria cut his own foot off so he could stay on jobless benefits – but was then told he might still qualify for work despite his amputation.
Long term unemployed Hans Url, 56, had just been informed his hand-outs would stop if he did not accept work found for him by job centre staff.
And when his claims that he was too sick and did not like the work were challenged with the offer of a medical, he took drastic measures.
Url, of Mitterlabill, southern Austria, rigged up a mitre saw and sliced off his foot – then put it in the oven for good measure to ensure no surgeon could reattach it.
But job centre staff have delivered a blow to hapless Url’s plan by saying his new disability does not rule him out for work.