The IFB is warning insurers and brokers that crash-for-cash is still a thing, despite smartphones, dashcams etc. Here’s the word;
The Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) is today warning drivers in the following towns and cities to be vigilant to dangerous ‘Crash for Cash’ scams, as it reveals gangs are increasingly spreading out from their typical crime hotspots to stage collisions in unsuspecting areas.
Top 10 new areas (by frequency) targeted by ‘Crash for Cash’ gangs in past 12 months
|1. Frome, Somerset
2. Worksop, Nottinghamshire
3. Cirencester, Gloucestershire
4. Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
5. Nottingham, Nottinghamshire
|6. Shrewsbury, Shropshire
7. Warrington, Cheshire
8. Ashby, Leicestershire
9. Leicester, Leicestershire
10. Derby, Derbyshire
Over the past 12 months the IFB has found evidence that gangs using addresses in well-established ‘Crash for Cash’ hotspots – such as Birmingham – are increasingly travelling out to unsuspecting areas to cause collisions with locals less familiar to the scam. The IFB is formally investigating over 170 collisions specifically linked to this new activity. However, it is believed these figures only scratch the surface and there are concerns that if local drivers don’t know to look out for signs of the scam and report it, cases could rise fast.
Ben Fletcher, Director at the IFB, said:
“’Crash for Cash’ fraudsters are known to evolve their tactics and the latest evidence shows that they’ve started spreading out from prominent crime hotspots to less suspecting towns and cities in the hope that they can avoid detection.
“This change in tactic brings home the fact that no matter where people may live, everyone should be on their guard to these reckless car crash scams. To help us stop cases from rising and bring these fraudsters to justice, we urge drivers to look out for signs of ‘Crash for Cash’ scams and to report any evidence of it to us straight away.”
There is evidence to suggest these gangs are even targeting rural villages with the dangerous tactic. IFB previously reported that the village of Beckington which is just 3 miles from Frome and has a population of only 980 people, had also been targeted.
COST OF LIVING FACTOR
In addition to the IFB’s identification of new areas at risk for ‘Crash for Cash’ scams, the police are expressing concerns that the cost-of-living crisis could make these scams more prevalent.
Tom Hill, Detective Chief Inspector at City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED), said:
“As we have seen in the past, a rise in cost of living and resulting financial hardships can often drive people to commit fraud. Unfortunately, this means that the public need to be even more alert than usual to fraudsters, like ‘Crash for Cash’ drivers.
“These criminals are reckless and show zero regard for the safety of other road users. It is important to learn the tell-tale signs that often precede an induced collision, as these can protect you from falling victim to this type of fraud. Of course these fraudsters can’t always be avoided, so if you do think you have been targeted, make sure to report your suspicions.”
‘Crash for Cash’ scams are prevalent in the UK with IFB analysis indicating that every four minutes a motor insurance claim is linked to the scam. These range from paper-based fabrications, or vehicles being damaged behind closed doors, through to the most dangerous where collisions are being caused by fraudsters with innocent road users.
The IFB’s investigations have found countless people have suffered inconvenience, expense and even injury from orchestrated motor collisions. In a few tragic instances, some victims have also sadly lost their lives to the scam.
‘Crash for Cash’ scams that involve innocent drivers are typically carried out by fraudsters who slam on their brake at busy junctions and roundabouts so the driver behind cannot stop in time. Sometimes this is done with an accomplice in a second vehicle driving erratically in front, so they can divert the victim’s suspicions by saying the driver in front (who has since fled the scene) caused the accident.
They are also known to encourage other drivers to pull out of side roads or wait until they creep forward for a better view, only to crash into the side of them.
James Burge, head of counter fraud at Allianz Commercial said:
“The whiplash reforms have contained some of the costs associated with fraudulent claims, but unfortunately crash-for-cash gangs aren’t fully deterred and still try to scam honest motorists and their insurers. The best way drivers can protect themselves against staged collisions is to keep themselves informed about those dangerous tactics.
That is why this work by the IFB is so important and helpful. It maps out the new locations targeted by gangs so drivers can be aware of the heightened risk in these areas. The IFB also shares practical tips about how to avoid, spot and react to crash for cash. If anything seems not quite right, drivers should not hesitate to mention it when they notify the accident to their insurer or broker. And if their vehicle has a dashcam, it can help foil scams. As insurers, we will continue to actively pursue fraudsters so drivers can stay safe on the road.”