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  1. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Toronto, Ontario. Canada

    Question Another little scam

    Insurance scam claimed £500,000 for series of staged accidents

    POLICE have launched a concerted attack on car insurance gangs believed to be responsible for staging bogus accidents that cost honest drivers up to £40 a year extra in average premiums.

    In dawn raids across north London last week, accompanied by The Sunday Times, police arrested five men thought to be responsible for staging at least 57 crashes, for which they claimed around £500,000.

    One man, arrested in his underpants, is believed to have used 15 aliases to open bank accounts, obtain credit cards, rent cars and file insurance claims, and to hold driving licences in two different names.

    The operation by City of London police, codenamed Phantom, is the first in a series intended to halt a wave of 10,000 fraudulent accidents per year. Insurance firms pass on losses to honest motorists in increased premiums.

    The London gang is alleged to have made false claims for accidents that never happened, or for staged accidents involving a supposedly high-value car that was in fact already a write-off.

    In a staged accident, both drivers are gang members, with the driver of the less valuable car accepting liability for writing off the other.

    Other cases involve “slamming”, in which gang members cause an accident involving an innocent motorist then use accomplices as “witnesses” to claim it was the other driver’s fault.

    Gang members typically target a smart family car because they know it is likely to be properly insured. They drive in front of it before slamming on their brakes — possibly after disconnecting their own vehicle’s brake lights — causing the target to crash into the back of the gang’s car.

    The London gang allegedly used a series of cars it claimed were high-value vehicles and fraudulently said they had been written off in accidents. Claims included £10,137 for a Mercedes 300, £8,693 for a Mazda MX-3 sports hatchback, and £4,176 for a Ford Mondeo saloon.

    A typical example was the use of a Volvo in an alleged crash with a BMW X5 on the A40 on August 10, 2005. According to the BMW policyholder, he was driving through heavy traffic into London when he collided with the Volvo. Two weeks later a £4,176 claim was made under the BMW’s insurance for the total loss of the Volvo.

    The BMW’s policy with Direct Line was only eight days old, while the Volvo was covered by Churchill Insurance and there had already been a claim on it two weeks before.

    The address for the Volvo’s owner also appeared in multiple claims, but under different names and for different cars. A further check showed that the Volvo had appeared in claims filed in December 2004 with Tesco, in March 2005 with Axa and in May with Esure.

    Soon after the accident, the owner of the BMW sold the car. DVLA records reveal that the new keeper shared the same address and phone number as the owner of the Volvo.

    Operation Phantom began in June 2005 when a computer alerted Norwich Union, the insurance firm, to anomalies in 15 accident claims. Some related to policyholders with different names but the same address, while others had the same name and different addresses.

    Norwich Union called in Keoghs, a Coventry-based firm of solicitors specialising in insurance fraud. Its investigators discovered that claims were made for accidents in which the driver had supposedly written off a car weeks after payment of the first month’s premium.

    Police believe the gang avoided making higher claims for personal injury because lawyers would then have become involved and claims would have been more closely scrutinised. Other insurers were warned about the investigators’ findings via a secure website and their responses helped it build up a detailed portrait of the gang.

    Fraud experts from insurance companies including Norwich Union, Zurich, Axa and Royal Bank of Scotland, gave their evidence to police at a meeting in March this year. Police identified 16 addresses used by the gang, and five main suspects — all of them Middle Eastern asylum seekers, and all arrested during last week’s raids.

    The suspect arrested in his underpants, in front of his wife and children, allegedly used so many identities that police are now unsure of his original name. The man’s brother, also one of those arrested, is believed to have changed his name to that of another alleged gang member, further complicating the investigation.

    A third suspect worked at a hostel for asylum seekers and is believed to have used its address on a string of insurance claims. It is thought that his asylum application had been turned down and he remained in Britain illegally.

    A fourth is also believed to have changed his name and to be living on benefits by claiming another suspected gang member is his full-time carer.

    Police also suspect the gang of money-laundering, benefit fraud, cheque and credit card fraud, and identity theft.

    Police equipped with a battering ram began raiding eight properties in the Harrow area of north London at around 6.30am last Wednesday. Officers accompanied by an Arabic translator seized bags of banking and insurance records from eight addresses, along with passports and driving licences in a variety of names.

    Among vehicles found at the properties were a Ferrari F355 convertible and two BMW X5 cars, believed to have been bought with proceeds of insurance crime.

    The insurance industry estimates that fraud involving vehicle policies accounts for £200m of the total £1 billion-£2 billion cost of all insurance fraud.

    Later this month companies will for the first time begin sharing details including accident dates, names and addresses of claimants, third parties and witnesses, and details of vehicles allegedly involved. Their previous refusal to set aside commercial rivalry has played into the hands of criminals making multiple claims.

    Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Wilmott, head of the City of London police economic crime unit, said: “We have been working very closely with the leading insurers, the Association of British Insurers [ABI] and the new intelligence database.

    “This is the first of a number of operations targeting fraud in the insurance industry, particularly around staged accidents.”

    Kelly Ostler, an ABI spokeswoman, said: “[The database] means we will be able to identify patterns of claims. In the past, if one person was making fraudulent claims against 10 different insurance companies, it might not have been picked up.”

    This weekend police said the five suspects had been released on bail while the investigation continues.

    Source - UK TimesOnline

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Wales, UK


    If you're in the mood for some long reads, but very amusing, then take a look at this site... BUT WHATEVER YOU DO, HEED THE WARNINGS THAT THE PEOPLE BEING SPOKEN ABOUT ARE CRIMINALS.

    The opening page mentions 'advance fee fraud scammers'.

    A case of "The biter bit", for a change...

    John R
    '07 XC70 D5 6Spd
    '03 XC90 T6 (13mpg )

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Toronto, Ontario. Canada

    Angry Western Un!on

    Awe, I could give you another story, shortly to be hitting the headlines but I'm not going into it now, all I will say is... if the words WESTERN UNION are ever mentioned to you...RUN FAST.

    As I said you don't need to know the rest, just those two words should be enough to scare you away.

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