The Insurance Fraud Bureau have released a new report on the growing menace of crash for cash scams, where fraudsters either target innocent members of the public or simply fabricate accidents involving their own stooges.
It’s worth familiarising yourself with the techniques involved, as a little knowledge may help you in the event that you are targeted, and you may even be able to avoid an incident if you know what to look out for.
Spotting a Crash for Cash Scam
Here are some of the scenarios that frequently come up in relation to crash for cash scams.
- The vehicle in front pulls away from traffic lights or roundabouts, and then slams on the brakes without warning.
- A car in front of you stops suddenly without an obvious reason, e.g. at an empty zebra crossing, or claiming that something ran in front of the car, when there was no sign of this being true. Some gangs employ a second vehicle to drive erratically in front of the first, and ’cause’ that car to slam on the brakes. The second car will not stop.
- Brake lights are frequently disconnected to reduce warning time to other motorists.
- The fraudster’s cars are usually fully loaded, so as to maximise the amount of personal injury compensation they can claim. Sometimes, to save time, the criminals have already prepared their insurance details and list of ‘victims’.
- The gangs target particular types of driver and car. They are looking for the cars that are most likely to have insurance, and where the driver of the car is least likely to cause a scene. For this reason, they cynically target mums with children in the car, older drivers, nice, well-maintained cars and cars with private plates. They also target commercial vehicles from large fleets.
- The criminal gangs target particular areas, especially inner cities. The top 20 hotspots are:
- Birmingham (B)
- Sheffield (S)
- Manchester (M)
- Nottingham (NG)
- Cardiff (CF)
- Liverpool (L)
- Newcastle-upon-Tyne (NE)
- Leicester (LE)
- Bristol (BS)
- London South-East (SE)
- London East (E)
- Coventry (CV)
- Glasgow (G)
- London North (N)
- Peterborough (PE)
- Leeds (LS)
- Brighton (BN)
- Reading (RG)
- Guildford (GU)
- Portsmouth (PO)
Top Ten Crash for Cash Tips
So what can you do to protect yourself?
- First, drive cautiously, particularly in high-risk locations, or at danger spots such as roundabouts.
- Be especially alert for cars being driven unusually, or if brake lights don’t come on when you would expect them to. Family cars and people carriers fully loaded with grown adults are not that common, so be extra vigilant around any you spot.
- You can buy an in car camera, such as a ChilliBongo, which will automatically record your driving, and save footage of any accidents or incidents you may have. Footage from these cameras can be invaluable in exposing crash for cash schemes, which is one of the reasons that these devices can save you money with discounts of up to 15% available.
- In the event of an accident try to remain calm. You shouldn’t make any admission of blame at the scene. Swap insurance details, and try to obtain names and contact details for all the occupants of the car. Make a note of the number of occupants.
- Report the incident to the police as soon as you can – if you feel unsafe in doing so, you may wish to say that you are calling a relative or friend.
- If you can, take photos of any damage, as well as the location and context of the accident. Members of gangs won’t wish to be photographed, but if they end up in shot as you are photographing the damage, it may be useful…
- If there is any indication of an injury, even if it seems slight, call for an ambulance. Fraudulent injuries have a tendency to become more serious
- Try to get contact details of any impartial witnesses. Be aware, though that some gangs plant their own ‘witnesses’ in the area, so exercise caution if somebody seems too eager to help.
- Report the accident to your insurers as soon as possible. Let them know straight away of your suspicions that the claim is fraudulent.
- Report the incident to the Insurance Fraud Bureau’s Cheatline on 0800 422 0421, or visit https://www.insurancefraudbureau.org/report/ You can report all types of insurance fraud, and if you suspect someone you know is committing an insurance fraud, your report can be completely anonymous.
- You can read more about insurance fraud in the IFB’s new “Cash for Crash” report.