Insurance Fraud Bureau

Fraudsters sentenced to 18 years' in jail for multi-million pound crash for cash scam

09 October 2018

Two dangerous insurance fraudsters who put innocent motorists at risk by forcing them into collisions around Slough, have been sentenced today, Tuesday 9 October, to 18 years’ in prison collectively for their crimes. The mastermind behind these crimes has absconded and Thames Valley Police is appealing for the public’s help to trace them.

A joint investigation between the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB), the insurance industry and Thames Valley Police uncovered one of the largest crash for cash scams ever. It was discovered that the fraudsters were commonly breaking erratically and carrying out dangerous manoeuvers at mini-roundabouts around the Slough area, causing other drivers to crash into them.

The fraudsters would then hand out ‘crib sheets’ which contained their personal details including their telephone number and insurance information to their victims at the crime scenes. These ‘crib sheets’ were analysed by the IFB who were able to connect multiple collisions to one another due to the common handwriting and telephone numbers. These telephone numbers were later found on the suspect’s personal mobile phones and used as evidence in the trial.

Following a four-week trial at Reading Crown Court, the fraudsters were sentenced to:

Nine years’ imprisonment for Conspiracy to Commit Fraud to be served concurrently with two additional three year sentences for possession of articles for the Use in Fraud. The individual failed to attend court for the conclusion of the trial and sentencing and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.

Three years’ imprisonment for Conspiracy to Commit Fraud.

The IFB worked closely with Thames Valley Police throughout the investigation, which originally began in September 2014. After receiving intelligence from insurers, IFB began investigating a number claims which appeared to be linked to suspicious car crashes in the Slough and surrounding areas. The IFB worked with their insurer members to understand the characteristics of the claims and a pattern began to emerge.

The case itself was complex, with the fraudsters going to great lengths to conceal their crimes. Investigators found that they were faking their details in order to insure their vehicles ahead of the collisions, as well as creating hundreds of fake driving licences so they could submit multiple claims under different names and addresses.

In building the evidence against the fraudsters, the IFB linked them to a number of common addresses on the policies, as well as identifying the IP addresses used, piecing the scam together. One of the fraudsters was also caught on CCTV scrapping some of the vehicles following the crashes. The gang had scrapped over 80 vehicles at the same scrap yard in an attempt to cover their tracks. 

In total, IFB were able to identify over 500 deliberate crashes with a similar amount of fraudulent policies taken out to cover their vehicles until the crash. The types of claims being submitted meant this scam was worth millions of pounds.

Throughout the investigation, IFB worked closely with organisations from across the insurance industry to collate over 100 witness statements, each evidencing the crash for cash incidents in and around Slough. Thames Valley Police then used this information and their own intelligence on the gang in order to track the criminals down and make the arrests.

A computer seized showed the fraudsters had been keeping detailed records of the fraud and a car that was on the drive of their home address was found to have around 80 fraudulently obtained driving licences and passports in the boot. These IDs were being presented to the insurance companies for fictitious claimants, further evidencing their crimes.  

Jason Potter, Head of Investigations said of these criminals “It’s lucky that no-one was more seriously hurt in this greedy and dangerous scam. These criminals put the lives of people in their own neighbourhood in danger, deliberately colliding with innocent members of the public just to line their own pockets.

“This case is a great example of the insurance industry and police working together to put a stop to crash for cash scams, which plague the industry, our roads and ultimately our society.

This scam was worth millions, and it’s down to the hard work, tenacity and patience of all those involved that have ensured these fraudsters have been held accountable for their crimes.”

Investigating Officer Detective Constable at Thames Valley Police, James Rex, based at Slough police station, said: “These offenders have been working on a complex and sophisticated fraud which has involved hundreds of victims and insurance companies. We have worked closely with the Insurance Fraud Bureau and insurance companies to bring an end to this fraud.

“We are very happy with the sentences as it reflects the seriousness of the crime. Thames Valley Police takes reports of fraud extremely seriously and will investigate thoroughly to bring offenders to justice.”

Anyone who feels they may have been a victim of crash for cash, or has any information related to crash for cash, can report it anonymously to the IFB’s Cheatline by phoning 0800 422 0421 or online.