Region shamed by fake crash hotspots

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A Yorkshire city has been named as one of the nation’s worst hotspots for the growing number of ‘cash for crash’ scams due to high levels of claimants involved in suspected insurance fraud in three of its postcodes.

The BD9, BD3 and BD8 areas of Bradford were revealed to have the country’s first, third and fifth highest concentrations of claimants connected to suspected scams where fake claims of damage to vehicles have been made.

A league table compiled by the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) and charity Crimestoppers as part of a campaign to tackle the problem also puts Bradford’s BD5 postcode in 20th and Halifax’s HX1 area in 18th.

The campaign, being backed by the insurance industry, aims to raise public awareness of how criminals target innocent and unsuspecting motorists to stage crashes in order to make claims against them.

Ben Fletcher, IFB Director, said: “Far from being a victimless crime, crash for cash scams hit motorists in the pocket and put other road users in harm’s way.

“While the hotspots show where fraudsters are prevalent the reality is that staged accidents can happen anywhere and at any time.

“Working with police forces across the country we’ve secured over 850 arrests to date and information from the Cheatline will help us bring more of these criminals to justice.”

In many cases, the people responsible for the fake crashes are part of organised crime gangs involved in many other types of illegal activity.

In September, a gang of 11 men who deliberately crashed a 12-tonne bus with 26 passengers on board as part of a huge scam in Sheffield were found to have played a part in a fraud conspiracy worth almost £500,000.

Four people were convicted during a trial at Sheffield Crown Court, while seven others had already pleaded guilty. All will be sentenced this week.

Inquiries began after an apparently routine, minor collision involving a bus and a Vauxhall Zafira in the Burngreave area of Sheffield, in 2011. The bus driver, Adam Herbert, was in on the plot.

A probe into claims following the crash led to a wider inquiry into the activities of a Sheffield-based accident claims company called City Claims 4 U, run by Mohammed Omar Gulzar and Shoaib Nawaz.

The IFB and Crimestoppers want motorists in the country’s major hotspots, which also include Manchester, London and Liverpool, to be on the lookout and report suspicions anonymously via their Cheatline.

Of the top 10 postcodes in the country ranked by concentration of suspected cash for crash claimants, three were in Bradford, six in Birmingham and one in Bolton.

One in seven personal injury claims are linked to suspected cash for crash scams, while it is estimated the problem costs £392m in a year.

Police say it is only a matter of time before the first fatal cash for crash collision in the UK.

Individual claims can be as much as £30,000 and motorists face higher insurance premiums because of the cost of companies paying out to fraudsters for the staged accidents.

Anyone with information about crash for cash scams should call the anonymous Cheatline on 0800 422 0421 or visit www.crashscam.co.uk.