What is a crash-for-cash scam?
Crash-for-cash scamming is a type of motor insurance fraud carried out by criminals who intentionally cause an accident and put the blame on the other driver. Scammers’ favourite technique is to position themselves in front of their intended victim, then by disabling their own brake lights, or by pulling away then jamming on their brakes, they force the driver behind into a collision.
Another highly dangerous tactic is to drive along a main road, and when approaching a left-hand junction, the scammer will falsely indicate that they’re about to make a left turn. Then when the driver who’s waiting to exit the junction pulls out, the scammer will drive straight on and slam into the emerging vehicle. Crucially, however the scammers cause the crash, they always make out that the other driver is at fault.
How to avoid becoming a victim
In recent years, criminals have adopted ever more sophisticated methods for scamming motorists, using decoy vehicles, multiple participants and fake witnesses. So if you’re selected as a target for an “induced accident”, you may not be able to avoid the collision - but you can take steps to avoid being scammed afterwards.
Installing a dashboard camera will enable you to capture the moments preceding the accident on video. So if the other driver has deceived you with a false indicator, or come to a sudden stop without their brake lights showing, you can present the video evidence to your insurer and the police.
What to do if you think you’ve been a victim
If you’re involved in an accident and you suspect it may have been staged, it’s advisable not to accuse or challenge the other driver. But don’t admit liability either! Calmly collect their insurance details, and if it’s safe to do so, use your mobile phone to take photos of the accident scene. If it’s possible to do so discreetly, photograph any damage to the other vehicle too.
Once you’ve returned home, write down the details of the incident while they’re still clear in your mind. Contact your insurance company as soon as you can, and make sure you tell them of your suspicions. You should also notify the police and report the incident to the Insurance Fraud Bureau by calling their Cheatline on 0800 422 0421.