Motor Insurance Fraud. Part 1 Should possibly be a ‘sticky’ and if in the wrong forum can a MOD sort cheers. Following on from the thread Scammers meet Mr Predator http://www.arrse.co.uk/intelligence-cell/179855-insurance-scammers-meet-mr-predator-home.html I suggested that I could flesh out the details that concern all parties in the event of a fraudulent Insurance claim. Some of you agreed, so I'll start. These individual claims can involve tens of thousands of ££s and are very rarely dealt with promptly. Third Party drivers and passengers (The ones in the motor vehicle that was alleged to have been hit) often exaggerate the circumstances of the collision, as the pay-out for a simple (and very difficult for a Doctor to substantiate) whiplash injury was between £1000 and £1500 per person. My background. After taking early retirement as a Police Officer, I was engaged in various activities including Private Investigation work, and a number of years as a surveillance specialist working across The UK, Ireland and mainland Europe. In 2002 I joined, what is now the largest privately owned Investigation Company in the UK (over 300 employees) as a Field Investigator. During my time with this Company I dealt with in excess of 4000 claims. Disclaimer: I finished as a full time investigator on emigrating to Ireland in 2007, and apart from some ad-hoc work I’ve done for the same company over here, I am a little out of date with some facts and figures. However, be in no doubt that these practices are continuing, are probably a little more refined and the cost of your motor vehicle Insurance will continue to rise as a result. My work as an Investigator. At the time I joined the Company, there were only 12 of us covering the whole of the UK. We were all ex coppers with extensive investigative backgrounds, could work under pressure of deadlines and were instructed by the biggest Insurance Companies, all of whom are household names. Based in Reading and working from home with an office set up by the company, I was expected to carry out four jobs a day, 6 days a week. Although this doesn’t sound exhaustive, my area of responsibility was rather large. (The M4 Corridor from Swindon to its end in West London. To the South, I covered the coast between Poole and Worthing, and to the North, all areas between Oxford and Watford.) Given that a straightforward interview, by appointment, at a Third Parties home would take about two hours, the writing up of that claim would take another two hours and the size of the area I had to cover, it is no wonder that I was travelling over 50k miles a year and often working 14 hours a day. What’s it all about? There is a basic premise, that the driver of a vehicle who runs into the back of another vehicle, and thereby causing a collision is the one at fault. This is largely true, given that a driver should always leave enough space between his vehicle and the one in front. Regardless of road conditions and speed, if a collision occurs, there was clearly not enough space in which to stop, ergo travelling too close. During the 1980’s and into the 1990’s Insurance companies would use this premise as a benchmark when filtering out Insurance claims. When in doubt, they would go for the well-known 50/50 option, whereby blame was attributed to both parties, a tactic that saves an Insurer a lot of grief, and adding to the misery and grief of a truly innocent motorist. Of course that still happens today. Given the above, and it was no secret, some unscrupulous individuals decided to take full advantage of this system, and started to exaggerate their Third Party claims in the event of a legitimate accident. Just think of £1000 in your bank account and a month off work? Cheers easy. It was only a matter of time before this scam (for scam, read fraudulent activity) was picked up by those with a more commercial outlook, who then came onto the scene. The Deliberate and Staged accident baby was then born. Most of those who work in the industry believe that it all started in Bradford, and as word spread it embraced other parts of the country. At first these claims were dealt with as they always had been, then a rather worrying pattern began to emerge. Insurance claims Managers are not idiots, and they now have a vast array of software available to them, which shows accident trends. Not only in the type of accidents, but the type of people involved, what their occupations are, their ethnic backgrounds, previous claims in other parts of the Insurance industry and what part of the country they live in. A lot of this information is regularly used by the underwriters when calculating a new Insurance proposal. The software showed comprehensively that suspicious accidents nearly always involved young Asian drivers, that the Third Party vehicle was invariably an older registration hatchback with multiple occupants, the accidents were occurring at exactly the same type of road junctions, the First Party Insured was white, usually female, young and travelling alone, or the driver of a well-known (and therefore bound to be fully insured) Commercial vehicle and that the Police were never called to the scene, yet multiple injury claims were being submitted. (Police are supposed to attend all traffic accidents involving an injury or an allegation of dangerous/careless driving, and in any case such an accident is to be reported as soon as is practicable and in any case within 24 hours) Although there has always been a small number of Motor Fraud Investigators, our ranks now increased. In 2007 we were investigating fraudulent claims in Bradford, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Luton, West London and Norwich. Once a suspicious accident had been flagged by the Insurer, (and contrary to popular belief, they do speak to one another and share a huge database of information) an Investigation company would be tasked to investigate. I mention the towns and cities above, as the accidents/offences in those places were prevalent, and it became obvious that gangs were involved, headed by a small team of taskmasters or as I call them here ‘aymasters’. Deliberate accidents can occur anywhere, but these generally tend to be the copy-cat kids, and are rarely linked to the big players, in what is clearly, to mind anyway, organised crime. Staged accidents are a different kettle of fish and I cover these a bit later. Who is doing it? I can only speak from my own company’s experience, and at the time I was working in the field. At no time during my 5 years (4000+ claims remember, and if you multiply that by 12 investigators you have in the region of 48,000 claims) did any of us ever investigate a staged or deliberate accident caused by a white British born individual. Fact. Although some Eastern Europeans are involved in this criminal activity, they have a long way to go before they reach the levels of the Asians and Afghanis. Yep. Afghanis. Although outnumbered by the Asian population, who rule the deliberate and staged accident roost in the rest of the country the Afghanis had West London sewn up. They were without doubt the masters of the game in London. What other Agencies are involved? Before I answer this, imagine a simple traffic accident. Two vehicles are involved in a collision. Nobody appears to be injured, any damage is negligible and the law has been satisfied by way of the First Party Insured and the Third Party aggrieved exchanging details for the purposes of any future Insurance claim. Both vehicles drive away, Sorted. We have all probably been involved, or know someone involved in that scenario. Now to answer the question above. The same accident occurs, and within a couple of weeks a letter from a Solicitor lands on your doormat. You are stunned to read that the Solicitors clients are claiming for personal injury and loss of use of a motor vehicle. There is attached, an official looking form from an Accident Management Company, complete with the Third Parties details (There were four occupants, although you only ever saw two) and you are to inform your Insurers immediately copying them in to the letter received. Huzzah! We are now travelling down a path which has kept me in milk and honey for a few years. Welcome to the busy life of Insurance fraud. Revisit the simple accident scene above. Did you see the Third Party vehicle drive away? No of course not, you were happy to remove yourself from the scene. Who wouldn’t? You’ve just apparently rammed a car and are confronted with a couple of angry Asian lads, one of whom appeared to be shouting aggressively into a mobile phone. You’ve complied with the law, you have all the details you need on a scrap of paper kindly supplied by the Third Party driver, you are on your own, the light is poor and you are not Chuck Norris. Nobody will blame you. You were surprised as to how the accident occurred, but you have fallen into the mind-set of ‘the driver behind is to blame’ and you are a bit shook up. But this is what has actually just happened. The Third party driver has deliberately caused the accident. (Much more of how they do this comes later) You have been targeted. The Third party driver has blamed you for the accident and is aggressive. He knows you will leave the scene as soon as he has handed over his details and received yours in return. Once you have driven off, he and his buddy (there are always two of them) will hang around the scene for a bit in the unlikely event of you returning to the scene, then drive off. The Third party, let’s call him GGD for brevity, drives his old hatchback back to a yard on an anonymous industrial estate. A team of players then bring out BFO sledge hammers and start to exercise their muscles on the back of the vehicle. GGD then jumps into his own vehicle, and drives to his paymaster. He collects £1000 cash which he splits with his buddy as he sees fit. The paymaster then contacts his mate who owns an Accident Management Company. This bloke prints out a claim form with all the ‘accident’ details including a sketch map. The paymaster then contacts another buddy who owns a Vehicle Recovery Company. The bloke there prints out an invoice for the ‘recovery of a hatchback motor vehicle, sustaining heavy rear end damage after a collision.” A third call is made to yet another bloke, who owns the yard where the aforementioned hatchback now resembles a big pile of shite, and yet another invoice is generated for storage charges. The following day, GGD and 3 other young lads take the day off work, and visit their GP (who may well be related to any of the parties thus far mentioned) and all are diagnosed with whiplash and signed off accordingly. GGD is presented with a hire vehicle, courtesy of the Accident Management Company and spins around in this for about a month. (Of course he is ultra-careful that he is not involved in any type of accident.) He then pops into a Solicitors and the letter that dropped on your doormat is typed up. GGD then pops over to his Uncle who owns a vehicle repair facility, and gets a quote for the repair to the smashed hatchback. (Oh it’s a right off. Never mind eh?) Regardless of the fact Insurance Companies want you to attend one of their (legitimate and registered) Accident Repair Centres; you are not duty bound to. What is the cost so far? Well, the storage charge for the hatchback was around £15 a day. The recovery fee will be about £200. The hire car will be around £400 a week, (the actual cost is nearer £200, but the Accident Management Company needs to make some sort of profit. Right?) The cost of the replacement for the ‘written off’ hatchback is usually around the £2k mark. Ignore the Doctors fee and the Solicitors fee as only they will receive that money, you have about £4500 quid for the first month. Of course the claim for four cases of whiplash increase this sum to in excess of £10,500. GGD and his pals have been paid for this job, and therefore all the money paid out for a successful injury claim is given directly to the paymaster. The four Afghani paymasters I dealt with in West London, were each putting out 5 cars a night, of which 3 were involved in deliberate accidents. That’s 12 accidents a night, 84 a week, generating a tax free shared weekly income of around £700, 000. Week in week out…It took a team of us over a year to crack this, with no Police help at all. Then they fled the country. I’ll point out here that during many of my meetings with Insurers, they admitted they were shelling out about £15,000,000 (that’s million) a day (a fecking day!) in claims. You can now see why. How do they get away with it? Unlike white British born citizens, GGD and his mates have the use of many properly registered forenames and family names. With a bit of mix and match, it doesn’t stretch incredulity too much to realise that one person can become many. The paymasters are not directly involved in any claim procedure and therefore are completely invisible. The Accident Management companies are only relying on what the Third Party drivers are telling them. It is difficult, although not impossible, to prove that the Vehicle Recovery Company didn’t attend a crash site. The storage company does actually have a damaged vehicle in the yard. Should I use Accident Management Company? No. Why should you? You are properly insured and part of your premium goes towards sorting out Solicitors, hire vehicles, recovery and storage. Have a good look out for these places when you are out and about. They are often small little shop fronts in Asian areas of town. And there one week and gone the next. There are so many small business premises changing hands, for charity shops and the like, a short term let is a business opportunity for the landlord. You will not find these places in the Yellow Pages, and if you ever see a business card, it’s always a home-made job with a mobile phone number. There are legitimate Accident Management Companies scattered around the UK, they even have a membership scheme (name escapes me) but when I was working at this, I believe it only had 25 members. Is it true that these fraudsters have witnesses to a collision? Yes. Deliberate accident sites are used on a regular basis (that’s one of the reasons we managed to obtain excellent surveillance film footage) and are pre planned. GGD has plenty of professional witness friends out there. Next time you are out and about in town, check out how many vehicles you see sporting a small scrap of cloth. Usually red & green and hanging from the tow hitch, or attached to the vehicle aerial. These are the people who are willing to act as witnesses to a deliberate accident, and believe it or not are willing to be involved in a staged accident. When I say staged, that’s exactly what it is. It is very unlikely to involve you, unless you are Asian, have mates who do this type of thing and own a multi occupancy vehicle. I mean, why claim for one case of whiplash when ten travelling in a Space Wagon does the job? 99% of the time the staged accidents vehicles have never physically met. They have never made contact in anyway; they were not at the time and place stated on a claim form. It is invariably stated that the ‘accident’ happened late at night and were always packed with woman and young children. (These type of claims were fairly easy to crack, as you will read later) If you do see these vehicles, don’t do anything hasty, but try and obtain a discrete photograph if you can. The vehicles are not necessarily being driven by the person who wants to become involved. I think that’s enough for now, Next episode will commence shortly, where I’ll cover the nuts and bolts of how these people arrange the accidents. How we catch them out and most importantly what you really must do at the scene of an accident.