Flash for cash

A dangerous new scam is happening on Britain’s roads whereby fraudsters deliberately crash into innocent victims in order to claim on their insurance. The so-called ‘flash for cash’ scam involves a fraudster flashing their lights to invite you to pull out, only to ram into you and subsequently claim you pulled out without checking first. It’s a shocking but potentially lucrative business for the fraudsters, who go on to make various bogus claims to their insurance company, often including fictitious passengers. This may include payouts for personal injury such as whiplash, loss of earnings, or fake bills for vehicle storage, recovery, repairs, and replacement car hire.
Fraudsters are thought to target vulnerable-looking drivers such as the elderly or mums on the school run, in the hope these victims will be less likely to put up a fight about the accident appearing staged. Fake accidents are estimated to cost the insurance industry £392 million each year, according to the Insurance Fraud Bureau. It increases the cost of premiums for honest drivers and often delays genuine payouts while an insurer investigates if a claim is fraudulent. As well as the obvious risk of serious injury, these scams can be deeply distressing if you are a victim. It can also be expensive as it means your insurance premium will probably increase because you’ve been involved in an accident. So what should you look out for on the roads?

Beware drivers flashing their lights

Be careful when someone flashes their lights at you. The Highway Code states: ‘Only flash your headlights to let other road users know that you are there. Do not flash your headlights to convey any other message or intimidate other road users. ‘Never assume that flashing headlights is a signal inviting you to proceed. Use your own judgement and proceed carefully.’

Keep your distance from other vehicles

Another common scam, known as ‘crash for cash,' occurs when fraudsters stop suddenly and unnecessarily at a busy roundabout or slip road, forcing you to crash into them. Some even remove their brake lights so it’s harder to tell when they’re stopping. Always avoid getting too close to the vehicle in front and if someone is driving erratically give them as wide a berth as possible.

If you do have a crash

In the event of an accident record as much detail as possible including the name and address of the other person driving. Make a note of how many people are in the other vehicle and if possible take photographs with your mobile phone. Get the full names and addresses of any witnesses. If you have a feeling that the accident was staged or deliberate, tell your insurer. You can also report information to the Insurance Fraud Bureau' confidential hotline on 0800 328 2550 or online at www.insurancefraudbureau.org/report Not all scammers are that clever though. Just last week, three Liverpool men admitted to staging a crash involving a coach full of 30 passengers – after which, despite their ‘injuries’, they were seen running across a dual carriage way in the direction of the pub!

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