Drivers warned over growing 'flash for crash' insurance fraud scheme


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The Independent Online

Motorists are falling foul of a new insurance fraud scheme dubbed “flash for crash”.

The latest tactic sees cars lying in wait for victims to exit from shops, car parks or fuel stations.

Fraudsters flash their headlights, offering the victim a right of way to join a main road, but then speed up to ensure their car is hit side-on.

The new tactic has been spotted, and given its name, by automotive anti-fraud investigation firm APU, which said the flash-for-crash phenomenon had emerged as a worrying trend since the start of the year.

"It is yet another example of how criminal gangs are becoming more sophisticated and attempting to stay one step ahead of suspicion," said Neil Thomas, APU's director of investigative services and a former detective inspector with West Midlands Police.

He went on: "The adoption of flashing headlights and beckoning the driver results in a 'your word against mine' situation when it comes to apportioning blame.

"By appearing to offer the right of way, the criminal simply continues his journey into a collision, holding the victim at fault for turning across him which, of course, cannot be denied under law."

APU said some 380 false insurance claims are made daily, costing the motor industry £1.7 million a year and pushing up insurance premiums.

It added that the Insurance Fraud Bureau is currently investigating 49 rings, responsible for around £66 million in false claims.

This is just the latest twist on 'crash for cash' schemes which have been around for many years, causing many problems for both motorists and the insurance industry, according to RAC commercial director Kerry Michael.

"This kind of fraud is manipulative and can be incredibly traumatic for the innocent individuals who get embroiled in claims against them, which are usually for whiplash and personal injury - not for damage to the car as you might think."

He went on: "The costs of this kind of fraud in the UK goes into the hundreds of millions and this, inevitably, can lead to the overall price of insurance premiums being pushed up to accommodate the losses underwriters have to bear.

"While this may seem like an individual act of selfishness or stupidity, often this kind of behaviour is linked to serious, organised crime. Unfortunately, following an accident this means that now more than ever motorists need to have their wits about them as much as the situation will allow."