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Insurance Fraud Scam on M57 Brought to Justice

car insurance fraudThree insurance fraudsters have been caught trying to deliberately cause a crash between a coach and their car on the M57 motorway – the goal being to claim £150,000 in injury compensation from their insurance company. The 3 men involved have all pleaded guilty to the judge at Southwark Crown Court on the 20th of August, admitting involvement in this elaborate ‘crash-for cash’ scam, similar to the car insurance scam that we covered in our blog on the 19th of August. The scammers were covered by insurance company ‘Service Underwriting’, who were alerted by the suspicious activity in December 2011. The insurer received 30 whiplash claims from separate people who were travelling on the coach to Belle Vue dog track in Manchester. Such a high number of whiplash claims (which are the biggest insurance scam in Britain) were bound to raise concerns within the insurance company.

The coach driver explained what happened to the insurer, saying that the passengers had forced him to pull over by a roundabout at a junction on the M57. The passengers insisted that the coach had been hit in the rear by a Renault Megane, even though the driver had felt no impact. The driver inspected the damage after the impact, reporting that there was only very little damage to both vehicles. However, the passengers decided to cancel their journey because they felt ‘unwell’, asking to be taken back to their pick-up point in Bootle. The entire group gave the driver their details before leaving the coach, saying that they had been injured. This was very suspicious; it is very unlikely that every member of the group would want to submit details for supposed injuries from such a light impact.

The City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) started an investigation into the case, managing to bring it to court. IFED detectives travelled to Liverpool twice in 2012 on separate occasions, arresting 1 of the men in June and another 2 of the criminals in July. The IFED investigation revealed that the criminal party had purchased the Renault prior to the accident, along with an insurance policy and the group booking for the coach trip to the dog races. In November, one of the men was charged with 2 counts of conspiracy to defraud, with the other 2 being charged with just one case.

IFED’s lead investigator Mark Forster said: “This was a carefully planned crime by a group of friends who decided that a coach trip to the dog track was the perfect vehicle to try and commit insurance fraud on a large scale. The fact they were putting lives at risk by causing a crash on a busy road did not hold them back. They wanted an insurer’s money and were prepared to go the extra mile to get it. But what these men did not count on was IFED and insurers working together to expose criminals who think insurance fraud is an easy way to bolster the bank balance.” Ian Holmes, claims director at Service Underwriting said: “We are committed to identifying, investigating and defeating all aspects of fraudulent activity on behalf of our clients, which includes the prosecution of culpable individuals. These guilty pleas further enforce that commitment and we will continue to adopt a zero tolerance attitude towards such claims and we would thank IFED for their support in delivering these individuals to justice.”

James Savery, 03 September 2013

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