Almost 80 fraudsters guilty in major insurance fraud scam

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A series of trials has concluded in which 77 fraudsters either pleaded or were found guilty for their role in a major insurance fraud scam.

The conclusion to the trials on 15 June follows the second phase of one of the largest investigations into car insurance fraud in the UK. The operation was carried out by the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) in collaboration with its insurer members and Gwent Police.

The original case, which concluded in 2015, saw 81 people prosecuted for their role in the crash for cash scam, in which the fraudsters staged accidents with 57 different vehicles.

The investigation uncovered that vehicles were purposefully being crashed into each other so the fraudsters could submit exaggerated and falsified claims in an attempt to increase pay-outs for vehicle damage and personal injury.

Gwent Police had been investigating the conspiracy, which centred around a garage in Cardiff called EasiFix, for more than four years before approaching the IFB in 2011 to help identify the extent of the fraudulent activity.

The IFB linked the damaged vehicles as well as parts found at the garage with a number of deceptive insurance claims. The bureau initially identify 60 incidents involving around 150 claimants, resulting in the eventual arrest and charging of 87 people. Eighty-one people were then prosecuted for a range of offences, including conspiracy to defraud and fraud by misrepresentation.

Following the original investigation, a further 22 staged incidents and an additional 80 individuals were identified as being linked to the scam. After the success of the first phase of the investigation, Gwent Police went on to pursue all of the other individuals involved in order to bring them to justice in the second phase of the operation.

As a result, on 22 May 2017, the individuals were summonsed to Cwmbran Magistrates’ Court, with 80 being charged with fraud offences relating to the additional 22 incidents. At the time, 15 of the individuals entered guilty pleas at the court, with a further 62 since pleading guilty or being found guilty. Three were found not guilty.

The conclusion of these trials on 15 June saw the last of the defendants being handed their verdicts.

Jason Potter, the IFB’s head of investigations, commented: “This is a continuation of one of the largest and longest investigations that IFB has been involved in and we’re extremely pleased that the guilty parties in this major scam were pursued for their crimes following a successful collaboration with Gwent Police and our insurer members.”

“Crash for cash in any form is an intolerable crime and the fraudulent claims that go along with it ultimately cost honest premium paying motorists money. What have may have seemed to the fraudsters like a quick way to make money has ultimately resulted in a total of 158 guilty verdicts across both phases of the investigation. Let this be a message to anyone considering taking part in this type of illicit activity–you will be caught and you will be prosecuted.”

Senior investigating officer at Gwent Police, Steve Maloney, said: “Operation Dino was investigated by a small team of dedicated investigators who had to manage a large number of individuals responsible for a very complex fraud.”

“The investigation has brought people to justice for their criminal activity but has also assisted our partners in the insurance industry to prevent future offences of this nature going undetected. Crash for cash scams have a real impact on society and cost the honest policy holders almost £350 million each year.”

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Mark Dugdale is the editor of Claims Media. Mark welcomes articles, letters or feedback from readers and can be reached via mark.dugdale@barkerbrooks.co.uk