Crash scams warning to driversMon, 02 Dec 2013
MOTORISTS have been urged to be on the look-out for criminals staging crashes with their vehicles to make money out of insurance claims.
Experts said Bradford and Birmingham were the most likely places for innocent drivers to be caught up in "Crash for Cash" scams but Bolton, Manchester, London, Liverpool and Halifax are also hotspots, and staged accidents can happen anywhere and any time.
The Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) and Crimestoppers appealed for information on those making bogus claims, in a crime that collectively costs policyholders more than £390 million every year.
In the "Crash for Cash" phenomenon, criminals target innocent and unsuspecting motorists with the intention of staging crashes in order to make claims against them.
By exaggerating claims for personal injury, vehicle damage and car hire, individual claims made by scammers can be as much as £30,000.
The result is that honest motorists foot the bill, as insurance companies pay out for accidents that have been caused deliberately by the fraudster.
In many cases these crashes are coordinated in individual towns and cities by organised criminal gangs making hundreds of claims.
People have been urged to ring a special "Cheatline", on which they can report their suspicions anonymously.
Ben Fletcher, IFB director, 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."
Director of operations for Crimestoppers, Roger Critchell, said: "This is a serious and organised crime that funds other crimes, including weapons and drug smuggling.
"For this reason I would urge anyone who has information on those committing these premeditated incidents to contact Cheatline anonymously. We don't want to know who you are, only who the fraudsters are."
The Cheatline is on 0800 422 0421 or people can visit www.crashscam.co.uk.
By Tim Moynihan, Press Association