Arrests after coach crash scam

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Operators are being warned about coach crash insurance scams. It comes after the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) arrested four men in Liverpool who are believed to part of a suspected ‘coach crash for cash’ scam.

Detectives from the City of London Police-based insurance fraud unit arrested two suspects, aged 35 and 20, in the city, with another two having been picked up some weeks previously.

The operations followed a referral from insurers, working with the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB), who became suspicious of a series of personal injury claims from a group of up to 30 people who had all been travelling by coach to Belle Vue dog track, on the edge of Manchester.

En-route on the M57 the coach driver was told to pull over by passengers who said the vehicle had been hit at the rear by a car. However, the coach driver said he had felt no impact.

There was only superficial damage to both vehicles, but the group decided to cancel their trip saying they felt unwell and asked to be taken back to the pub where they had been collected. Before leaving the coach all of the group confirmed to the driver that they had been injured and gave him their personal details.

Head of IFED Detective Chief Inspector Dave Wood said: “Crash for cash is costing the insurance industry hundreds of millions of pounds and is responsible for putting a higher price on every driver’s premium and posing a safety risk to road-users.

“The problem seems to be particularly prevalent in the North West and IFED making repeated arrests in the region are evidence of how determined we are to tackle this culture of criminality right across the country.”

All four men were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit fraud and questioned at a Liverpool police station, before being released on bail. As this issue went to press, it was confirmed charges have yet to be brought and that all suspects remain on bail. Police were also unable to name the coach operator concerned.

Phil Bird, Director of the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB), said: “Fraud is not a victimless crime. As honest policyholders, we all pick up the bill for fraudsters. Pre-planned scams like this cost the industry £350m every year and the IFB plays a key role in gathering the evidence against those who try to abuse the system. Working alongside IFED and other UK police forces, more and more fraudsters are facing the full force of the law.”

IFED was set up with funding from the insurance industry to combat an area of criminality valued at £3bn per year, working out at £50 per policy holder. Since its January launch detectives have made more than 120 arrests across the UK, in particular targeting the organised crime behind car insurance fraud and opportunistic fraudsters who are submitting bogus claims to make some easy money.

If you suspect anyone of committing insurance fraud, you can report them to the IFB’s free and confidential Cheatline on 0800 422 0421 or online at www.insurancefraudbureau.org/report