Surge in car crash scams

The number of "crash for cash" scams where drivers stage accidents to claim on insurance is increasing around the country, figures showed today.

Typically the racket - in which fraudsters claim thousands on pounds on innocent drivers' insurance - has been carried out in the north west of England.

But parts of London are in the top 10 hot spots for the first time, the latest data shows, with east London in sixth position and north London in ninth.

The Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) estimates around 30,000 accidents are staged each year, with each claim averaging around £17,000.

It costs insurers about £350 million, adding £44 to the premium of every driver in the country.

Birmingham is the UK's top fraud hot spot, the IFB said, with the other four top places taken by Liverpool, Blackburn, Manchester and Leeds.

Fraudsters usually brake suddenly on a clear road or roundabout to make an innocent motorist drive into the back of their vehicle.

They go on to claim for personal injury, damage to the car and recovery fees.

Sgt Mark Beales, from Greater Manchester Police, warned that criminals targeted their victims carefully.

He told the BBC: "What these fraudsters tend to pick on are people who are single mums or elderly people, people who are less likely to cause them any issues.

"They also target drivers of commercial vehicles, because drivers tend not to care as much if they're not driving their own vehicle."