CASH FOR CRASH is one of the latest fraud scams increasing in popularity among criminals. It is a con that puts innocent drivers in danger, as well as prays on the weak and forces insurance companies to increase premiums while con artists receive huge pay-outs.
Insurance company, Aviva, have reported a 51% increase in Cash for Crash cases since 2012 a shocking figure. A further study by the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) shows that 1 in 7 personal injury claims are believed to be fraudulent, resulting in a bill of almost £400m a year that is paid for by innocent drivers through premiums.
What is CASH FOR CRASH?
The scam tricks or otherwise forces unwitting drivers into getting into accidents in which they can be blamed. Tactics include braking suddenly and giving false signals in order to cause the victim into making a mistake so they can make an insurance claim. Hence "Cash for Crash".
The most common of these would see the criminal get in front of their victim and get as close to them as possible and then, without just cause, slam down the brakes to force the victim to crash into the back of the vehicle. Victims have little or no time to react by design, but are blamed for the collision regardless.
Sometimes these scams are organised by gangs who plant false witnesses, pressurising the victim in incriminating themselves.
Who Is At Risk?
The thing about this Cash for Crash scams is that everyone is at risk. All the criminal needs to do is get in front of you and brake. That said, there are certain people more likely to be targeted. In general, criminals will want their victims to be unwilling to make a scene or unable to stay calm.
In particular the following are most at risk:
- Parents/Families. Criminals will most likely take advantage of a worried parent who has children in their car and are more concerned about their safety than the situation at hand. Criminals will look for a quick resolution to their advantage, often making up details that the parents cannot disprove.
- Older Drivers. As they tend to be more passive and uncomfortable with confrontation, older drivers can be more willing to back down. Criminals have also used the health and well-being of pensioners to their advantage by claiming the victim is unfit to drive.
- New Vehicles/Kept Vehicles. Drivers with new vehicles are vehicles that are clearly well looked after will often have their mind on the damage to their vehicle rather than the accident. Unfortunately, private number plates can be a dead giveaway.
How to Avoid Being Scammed
- Stay vigilant. Be wary at all times of hazards, pedestrians and other motorists. If you notice anyone driving in an odd way, i.e. they try to get in front of you and slow down, back off and get away from them.
- Only A Fool Breaks The 2 Second Rule. Try to keep a two second gap between yourself and the driver in front of you at all times to give yourself enough time to react to a situation.
- Get a dashcam. These are growing in popularity because of scams like Cash for crash, and they are invaluable in this sort of situation. It films everything in front of you, so you can use it to prove that the criminal slammed on the brakes for no reason. You can pick them up for about £30, so it is well worth it.
- Stay calm. Criminals pray off chaotic situation and will take advantage of you if you are visibly shaken or panicked. Just stay calm, do not admit to any wrong doing at the scene and try to take in as many details about the situation as possible.
- Take photos. Record everything you can that could help your case and/or damage the criminals case. Photograph the damage on both cars, the interior of the criminals car (to prove he had no passengers), and if possible the criminal itself.
- Take the other driver's information, e.g. address, name, and make and model of vehicle. Note any strange behaviour - for example, are they complaining of any injuries? Do they sound like they've over-prepared for the situation? Are they try to get you to take responsibility?
- Dont be confrontational. If you believe you are being scammed do not come out and say it as that may heat up the situation and incriminate you. However, do call the police and your insurance company to let them know of your suspicions. Remember it is better to make sure the criminal is caught then scare them off so they can try it on someone else.
What Is Being Done
You will be pleased to know that the Cash for Crash scam is no longer a well-kept secret or a quick way to make some cash. The ringleader of a gang known for their cash for crash scams worth £1m has recently been convicted, and more and more checks and balances are coming in place as insurance companies become more aware of the fraud. Some insurance providers are even cutting premiums if you install a dashcam.
More and more people are being caught out. The worst offenders are facing convictions of up to a year per case. Even minor Cash for Crash offenders, those just trying the fraud once for a quick cash, are having to pay out huge fines and will also be subject to a permanent fraud marker on the licence which will make it next to impossible to get car insurance in the future.
The UK insurance injury and law enforcement are making it so this crime will not pay, you just have to make sure you do not get caught out by these opportunistic scammers.