More than 1,000 UK motorists a week are blameless victims of deliberate “crash-for-cash” incidents, according to figures release by the insurer LV=.
LV=’s figures suggest there were more than 30,000 “slam-ons” in 2013, where fraudsters slam on the brakes to cause the vehicle behind to crash into them. They also suggest that one in 30 drivers believe they were involved in a “flash for cash” scam last year.
Lone females and under-35s are particularly vulnerable as they are perceived as less likely to contest the claim, according to the insurer. False witnesses are often stationed at crash sites to bully innocent victims into submission and provide false testimonies.
The fake incidents range from small-scale opportunistic bumps to highly organised crashes involving willing participants from within the insurance and car repair industries. This type of fraud is estimated to cause the UK insurance industry up to £392m each year.
Rachel Craig, an associate at a Manchester personal injury law firm, cited incidents where scammers cut their brake lights to increase their likelihood of being hit in the rear. She also described a notable increase in “ghost accidents”, where personal injury claims are made for collisions that never even happened.
Rachel Craig said: “These paper-based frauds involve fabricated claims for accidents that didn’t actually occur. Many motorists targeted by these organised crime rings are left unaware that they are victims of highly-organised criminal acts.”
Dr Karen Lumsden at Loughborough University is researching how crash-for-cash schemes are related to organised crime.
Dr Lumsden said: “Victims often don’t perceive themselves as such because perpetrators utilise road traffic laws to their advantage.
“However, the increasing number of these incidents is encouraging the public to adopt a strong no tolerance approach towards all manner of insurance fraud.”