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‘Crash for cash’ fraudster who targeted HGV jailed

29 January 2013

A criminal gang member who deliberately caused a crash with a Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) to make fraudulent insurance claims has been jailed.

Tariq Mehmood was sentenced to 12 months in prison at Harrow Crown Court on Friday 25 January 2013 for conspiracy to defraud and dangerous driving. Ansab Rizwan and Ihtisham Gondal received suspended sentences and 180 hours of unpaid work each for their parts in the scam, whilst Nasser Khan received a 12 month community order and 100 hours unpaid work.

CCTV footage from the HGV’s in-cabin camera, supplied by Towergate Insurance, helped to expose the scam, with footage showing a black Volkswagen Golf working in tandem with a blue Mercedes to induce the crash. Travelling in convoy, the Golf – a decoy car – brakes hard and late to turn into a side road. The Mercedes that is following then performs an emergency stop, which causes a rear-end shunt by the HGV.

Towergate Insurance, the HGV’s insurer, referred the case and CCTV footage to the police. A joint investigation by the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Catcher team and the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) linked members of the criminal gang to induced crashes in Bedfordshire and also identified an associated claims management company, which has since ceased trading.

Ben Fletcher, Head of Operations at the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB), said:

“Crash for cash is a menace to our society. Fraudsters are putting innocent motorists in danger by deliberately causing crashes across the UK. This type of fraud is also costing the insurance industry almost £400 million every year, which in turn inflates premiums for honest policyholders.

“Working alongside the Metropolitan Police, the IFB helped to build evidence against the four men convicted. The sentences passed are testament to the insurance industry’s determination to help the police catch and convict fraudsters.

“The IFB continues to up the ante on organised criminal gangs targeting the insurance industry. By 2014, the Bureau is forecasted to manage fraud investigations worth in excess of £160 million, which could translate to over 90 police operations. Our objective is to stop these scams at the source by taking out the organisers.”

A Towergate Insurance spokesperson said:

“We’re delighted that the footage from our client’s camera assisted the police in this vital operation. Without the footage, it would have been very difficult for our client to prove this was a ‘crash for cash’ scam. This case clearly demonstrates the benefits of having this type of camera installed.”

DI Dave Hindmarsh, of the Metropolitan Police, said:

“This case demonstrates the organised nature of these criminals, further highlighting that fraudsters do not respect the geographical boundaries of police services and will often travel some distance to commit these types of offences. The sentences should serve as a reminder to anyone considering fraud, that the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Catcher team work in partnership with many organisations to catch and prosecute offenders.”

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