Motorists are urged to be on the lookout for so-called “crash for cash” scams in which deliberate road traffic accidents are staged so fraudsters can make money out of insurance claims.
The Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) and Crimestoppers are teaming up to appeal for information on criminals involved in making these bogus claims – which also serve to deter from the genuine, common accident claims for injuries such as whiplash.
Accidents co-ordinated by crime gangs
The crash for cash phenomenon costs policyholders more than £390 million a year. By exaggerating claims for personal injury, vehicle damage and car hire, individual claims made by scammers can be as much as £30,000.
This means that honest motorists are footing the bill for insurance companies to pay out for road accidents that have been caused deliberately.
In many instances these crashes are co-ordinated in individual towns and cities by organised criminal gangs making hundreds of claims.
Bradford and Birmingham are the most likely places for innocent drivers to get caught up in scams, but Bolton, Manchester, London, Liverpool and Halifax are also hotspots, IFB research has uncovered.
Drivers who think they have been targeted have been urged to phone a special Cheatline on 0800 422 0421, where they can report their suspicions anonymously.
Hopes of more arrests
The IFB’s director, Ben Fletcher, said: “Far from being a victimless crime, crash for cash scams hit motorists in the pocket and put other road users in harm’s way.
“While the hotspots show where fraudsters are prevalent, the reality is that staged accidents can happen anywhere and at any time.
“Working with police forces across the country we’ve secured over 850 arrests to date and information from the Cheatline will help us bring more of these criminals to justice.”
Roger Critchell, director of operations for Crimestoppers, said this type of organised crime funds other crimes, including weapons and drug smuggling, which is why anyone who has information on those committing staged crashes should contact Cheatline.
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