Midlands crash for cash hotspots revealed

Parts of Birmingham and the Black Country are the top "crash for cash" hotspots in the UK, analysis of the scams has found.

Crash for cash is a common insurance scam which involves fraudsters inventing or deliberately causing dangerous road traffic collisions, often involving innocent people, in a bid to claim compensation.

Figures reveal Birmingham takes up five of the top 11 postcode areas pinpointed as having a problem, including the top three.

The WS1 area of Walsall comes in sixth on the list and WS2 is also in the 30 worst areas in the country.

The Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) helps insurers and the police to fight fraud. It acts as a central hub for sharing insurance fraud data and intelligence, helping to detect and disrupt organised fraud networks.

The IFB said it hoped that by pinpointing crash for cash hotspots, people would be encouraged to be vigilant as more drivers start to return to the roads.

IFB analysis of 2.7 million motor insurance claims made across the UK in between the start of October 2019 and the end of 2020 identified more than 170,000 claims which could be linked to suspected crash for cash networks.

Luring

IFB investigations have found single gangs can be behind thousands of orchestrated collisions in some areas, with the combined value of their fraudulent claims running into the millions.

In the top hotspot area of Birmingham, the B25 postcode around Yardley, the IFB said it had recently worked with City of London Police's Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department to convict a serial crash for cash fraudster who had spent more than two years luring innocent people into car crashes.

Ben Fletcher, director at the IFB, said: "Crash for cash fraudsters bring devastation to countless victims and increase motor insurance costs for us all.

"The IFB's hotspots analysis is a stark reminder that although great strides have been taken in tackling the problem, these car crash scams are all too common.

"As traffic levels return to normal following the national lockdown, crash for cash fraudsters may look to make up for lost time. It is hoped that by shining a spotlight on the issue we will encourage road users to be alert and report any suspicious activity."

James Dalton, director of general insurance policy at the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said: "These criminal gangs are often highly organised and put lives at risk. The amounts that they fraudulently claim can be huge, and can impact on the motor premiums paid by honest motorists.

"With more vehicles on the roads as we emerge from the pandemic restrictions, so the potential targets for these criminals increases. This is why it is so important for all motorists to be on their guard - if you suspect an incident is suspicious do not put yourself at risk, but report your suspicions to the IFB's confidential Cheatline."

The IFB's Cheatline can be contacted on 0800 422 0421.

Top crash for cash postcodes in the UK:

  1. B25 Birmingham

  2. B34 Birmingham

  3. B8 Birmingham

  4. BD7 Bradford

  5. BD3 Bradford

  6. WS1 Walsall

  7. BB9 Blackburn

  8. BD8 Bradford

  9. B27 Birmingham

  10. RM18 Romford

  11. B33 Birmingham

  12. WF13 Wakefield

  13. BD15 Bradford

  14. OL8 Oldham

  15. HX1 Halifax

  16. M8 Manchester

  17. LS8 Leeds

  18. N9 North London

  19. WF16 Wakefield

  20. LU3 Luton

  21. WS2 Walsall

  22. BD2 Bradford

  23. BD5 Bradford

  24. B11 Birmingham

  25. HP12 High Wycombe

  26. B28 Birmingham

  27. RM8 Romford

  28. LU4 Luton

  29. IG3 Ilford

  30. BD9 Bradford

Tips for avoiding crash for cash incidents from the IFB:

Know what to look out for

Induced car collisions are often caused by fraudsters who slam on their brakes on busy junctions and roundabouts. Some have an accomplice who drives erratically in front of them, so they can divert suspicions by blaming the driver in front.

There have also been rising reports of innocent drivers being crashed into by fraudsters after being encouraged to pull out of side roads, or when creeping forward for a better view.

Keep a good distance

Always keep a good distance from the vehicle in front. According to the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) the time required to safely stop is two seconds in dry conditions, four seconds in wet conditions and 20 seconds in icy or snowy conditions.

Stay alert

Look for any potential hazards including unusual driving behaviour.

Focus on vehicles and not just their lights, as fraudsters often disable brake lights.

If other drivers or their passengers are behaving suspiciously, or the condition of their vehicle is poor, such as rear dents, keep back.

Know the signs after a crash for cash

The driver or their passengers may appear unfazed after a collision. They may exaggerate injuries. Pre-written insurance information may be handed over.

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