Two insurance fraudsters have been sentenced for their roles in a crash-for-cash scheme that saw one of them cut from the vehicle as emergency services dealt with the incident.
An investigation by the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED), which worked closely with insurer LV= during the case, led to guilty pleas from both Shabina Kassim and Nasir Ghaffar.
Kassim and Ghaffar were sentenced to 15 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to £100 each in court costs. Ghaffar was also ordered to do 160 hours of unpaid work.
IFED was first made aware of Kassim and Ghaffar’s crash-for-cash plan following a referral by LV=, which became suspicious and launched an initial investigation into the pair, after one of its customers called and said he believed he’d been the victim of a contrived collision, caused by them.
According to the customer, a car suddenly changed lanes in front of him and performed an emergency stop when he was moving forward from a set of traffic lights that had just turned green, causing him to crash into it. He identified three people in the car, Ghaffar and Kassim who were passengers, and a man who was the driver.
After the collision, the road in Cranford, London, was closed for approximately three hours as emergency services attended the scene. When the Metropolitan Police arrived, Kassim told them that she thought she was pregnant and had suffered serious injuries to her back.
The London Ambulance Service were then called and as there may have been an injury to Kassim’s spine, the London Fire Brigade also attended to cut off the roof of the car and help her out. She was taken to hospital and a doctor confirmed that Kassim wasn’t pregnant as she’d claimed.
A witness said in his statement to IFED that he also believed it was caused deliberately and saw Kassim move into the driver seat after the collision. Kassim did this as she had a driving licence, unlike Ghaffar, and so she was able to then put in a series of fraudulent claims through the company who insured her car.
The third man, who the customer and the witness saw driving the car, left the area soon after the collision. Kassim and Ghaffar claimed that he was their friend and was getting a lift to work, but neither knew his surname or had any contact details for him when interviewed by IFED.
A couple of weeks after the collision, LV= received personal injury claims from Kassim and Ghaffar, with both stating that Kassim was the driver and that they were they only people in the car. On top of this, the insurer for Kassim, which was unaware of the fraud at the time, contacted LV= and requested reimbursement for the costs linked to the car, such as vehicle damage and car hire costs.
Collectively, the personal injury claims, repair costs and legal costs amounted to £15,554. The money for the personal injury claims and legal costs were never paid to Kassim and Ghaffar.
Detective constable Agnew, who led the investigation into the crash-for-cash scheme for IFED, said: “Kassim and Ghaffar went to great lengths to carry out their crash-for-cash plan and try and claim as much money as they could. However, IFED worked effectively with LV= to expose them and ensure they were brought to justice.”
“On top of their deplorable actions to try and deceive the insurers, which put the safety of the victim at risk, they also wasted the precious time of three emergency services, potentially taking them away from genuine emergencies.”
Clare Lunn, general insurance fraud director at LV=, said: “It’s bad enough that these fraudsters endangered the lives of other road users for financial gain, but to waste the valuable time of our emergency services in the process is truly shocking.”
“The police, fire brigade and ambulance service were at the scene for over three hours, when they could have been out serving the public. We’re glad to see them receive suspended custodial sentences today and hope this will deter others. Crash-for-cash accidents can cause real harm to other road users and our services, so LV= is committed to pressing for the strongest possible punishment for those convicted.”