'Flash For Cash' Car Crash Scam Warning
Motorists have been warned about a new car accident insurance scam, which has been dubbed "flash for cash".
The latest tactic sees cars lying in wait for innocent victims at exits from shops, car parks or fuel stations.
Fraudsters flash their headlights, offering the victim a right of way to join the main road, but then speed up to ensure their car is hit side-on by the unwitting driver, according to automotive anti-fraud investigation specialist APU.
"It is yet another example of how criminal gangs are becoming more sophisticated and attempting to stay one step ahead of suspicion," APU's director of investigative services Neil Thomas said.
"By appearing to offer the right of way, the criminal simply continues his journey into a collision, holding the victim at fault for turning across him which, of course, cannot be denied under law."
The new tactic is a variation on the existing 'crash for cash' scam where organised crime gangs using several cars to stop suddenly, in the hope a following car will cause a rear-end collision.
According to the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB), crash scams cost £392m annually, with gangs netting an average of £1.7m.
The IFB believes 14% of personal injury claims are suspected to be linked to 'crash for cash' scams.
Metropolitan Police Traffic Command Detective Inspector David Hindmarsh said the motor industry insurance scams could add an estimated £50 to £100 to each policyholder's annual premium.
The organised gangs now use claims management front companies to 'milk' the system.
"The issue with this new type of collision is that the police would not be called, and there would be no personal injury," Det Insp Hindmarsh told Sky News.
"Organised criminal groups can set up claim management companies with the sole purpose of defrauding the industry.
"Insurance costs would then be claimed for recovery of the damaged vehicle, storage while awaiting repairs and car rental during the period."
Association of British Insurers (ABI) director general Otto Thoresen said that across the whole insurance industry around 380 fraudulent claims are uncovered daily, worth nearly £1bn a year.
Another £2bn in fraudulent insurance claims are estimated to be made annually across the sector.
Det Insp Hindmarsh warned that utmost care should be taken when a driver offers you to join the traffic flow.
He said: "The advice would be if someone flashes you, make sure they are either stopped or don't risk pulling out.
"Always make sure it is safe to move before you do so."