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‘Crash-for-cash’ scammers develop dangerous new tactic

Motorists are being warned of a new ‘hide and crash’ tactic being used by scammers across the UK – with potentially lethal consequences.

AX says the potentially lethal ‘hide and crash’ manoeuvre is being employed by criminals across the UK

According to anti-fraud experts at AX, formerly known as APU and rebranded as part of the Accident Exchange group at the start of the year, the new ‘crash for cash’ method is an evolution of previous tactics and involves a fraudster hiding in a driver’s blind-spot before quickly moving in front to ‘slam on’ the brakes.

The latest ‘hide and crash’ trend was noticed when AX detected several suspicious claims displaying near identical characteristics.

“This new tactic is a dangerous progression of the existing ‘slam on’ approach,” explained Neil Thomas, director of investigative services at AX. “Criminals can take cover in a driver’s blind spot, wait for the ideal moment, then accelerate and move into their pathway before slamming on the brakes.”

The warning comes as AX names the top five most common tactics currently used by fraudsters to induce accidents and make bogus insurance claims. According to the firm, the ‘slam on’ method is still the most common trick used for ‘crash for cash’ fraud, which costs the industry £340m annually, leading to inflated premiums for motorists and businesses.

Top five tactics used for ‘crash for cash’:

1 Traditional ‘slam on’ accidents – a vehicle in front intentionally slams on the brakes to catch out the driver behind
2 Flash for crash – when a driver flashes their lights to beckon another vehicle forward but then drives into them
3 Crash for ready cash – a third-party requests cash to fix their vehicle after they have induced a collision
4 Hide and crash – a vehicle ‘hides’ in the blind spot of another car before moving in front and braking hard
5 Hire and crash – where a criminal hires a car and stages an accident with another vehicle, usually someone they know

In terms of motorists protecting themselves from fraudulent claims, Thomas advised: “It is hard to avoid being a victim of a staged accident but watch for passengers looking back, and do not interpret flashing headlights as an automatic invitation to pull out of a side road.

“In the event of an accident, drivers should take a few simple steps to guard against fraud. Count the number of occupants and ask for names. Then be sure to note the registration plates of the other vehicles. This is critical information which is easy to miss in heat of the moment but can help insurers and fraud experts build up a true picture of events.”

AX also said that intelligent telematics and dashcams can counter the threat of motor fraud.

Thomas added: “Detecting new methods deployed by gangs is notoriously difficult and without video evidence, it is often difficult to prove who was really at fault. Intelligence-sharing amongst insurers and the authorities can help, nevertheless drivers should always be vigilant. Collectively, we can minimise the impact of these increasingly sophisticated criminals.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.