An insurance-fraud gang racked up £8m by duping innocent motorists into crashing their cars. Crooks cut their own car brake lights before stopping sharply at roundabouts – so helpless victims rammed them from behind. The gang members then made hugely-insurance claims on the victims’ policies. They often invented whiplash injuries to fictional `passengers’ and exaggerated the damage to their own cars. And hundreds of drivers across Greater Manchester and Lancashire fell victim to the `crash for cash’ scam, police believe.
Twenty-five arrests have already taken place after a three-year probe – with more expected. Officers involved in Operation Contact have also seized cars, cash, drugs, a stun gun and a replica gun as part of the investigation. Police uncovered the fraud after noticing a high number of crashes at Eden Point roundabout at the junction of Three Acres Lane and the A34 Handforth bypass near Cheadle Hulme, Stockport, in 2005.
The gang’s drivers would stop short of a roundabout and wait for a target to pull up behind, then accelerate to the roundabout before coming to a sudden stop, sometimes using their handbrake. The drivers would often engage the victim in friendly conversation as insurance details were exchanged. The crooks’ cars would then often suffer mysterious `extra’ damage, with claims put in for everything from recovery to replacement car hire. And personal injury claims were common.
`Crash for cash’ scams form a rising proportion of insurance fraud, costing the industry £1.6bn a year and adding an average £40 to every premium. A group of MPs estimated in 2006 that there were 22,500 staged collisions across the country between 2001-2005.
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