Crash For Cash Scams Labelled As A ‘Real And Growing Threat’

Cash for crash schemes, which see fraudsters deliberately crash into innocent drivers, are a ‘real and growing threat’. That’s according to a leading industry body…

Crash for Cash Scams 

Crash for Cash scams involve fraudsters deliberately crashing into unsuspecting drivers; all so they can file false insurance claims. Whilst they started out as a relatively niche phenomenon on the nation’s roads, the number of incidents is rising. According to the anti-fraud organisation Cifas, the total number of crash for cash offences rose by 45% in 2019. That’s significantly above the industry average of 27%.

Neil Thomas, Director of investigative services at fleet management company AX, commented on the phenomenon. He said, “criminals will do anything to milk the motor industry and drivers, evolving their tactics to keep people guessing and avoid detection”. He continued, “we can’t completely stamp out their activities, but we can collectively do more to curtail what is a real and growing danger to drivers. Recent experience has shown how some criminals have used the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown to plan motor insurance frauds, and they are now intent on cashing in at the expense of innocent motorists”.

How They Work 

There are three different variants of the crash for cash scheme…

1) Staged collisions – these involve deliberately damaging a car to make it appear that a crash has taken place. Criminals will use anything from sledgehammers to deliberately crashing into obstacles.

2) Induced collisions – these involve deliberately orchestrating a crash. Favoured methods include slamming the brakes whilst in front of another vehicle or signalling another driver at a junction, only to pull out on them. Afterwards, some criminals will even attempt to extort money at the scene of the crash.

3) Ghost collisions – these simply involve fraudsters making claims where no damage exists at all. They attempt to take advantage of minor claims that aren’t always investigated.

How to Protect Yourself 

The best way to protect yourself against crash for cash schemes is to invest in a dash dam. These will make it difficult for a fraudster to induce a collision, as they’ll expose their behaviour. They might even discourage them from singling you out in the first place; assuming the cameras are visible. It’s also important to recognise the warning signs. Is a nearby driver behaving erratically? Do their rear brake lights work? Is the driver regularly looking behind or over their shoulder? It’s also crucial to approach junctions cautiously after having being signalled. Whilst a commonly accepted form of communication between drivers, it doesn’t trump the Highway Code; which is clear on who has right of way. If you are signalled, make your manoeuvre slowly and keep an eye on the car that has signalled you.

If the worst should happen, remain calm and collect evidence at the scene of the crash. Ask the other person for their contact and insurance details. Write down information about the other drivers and their vehicles. If there were witnesses to the crash, make sure to get their contact details as well. Finally, should someone ask for money after a crash, walk away or seek assistance.

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