Motor fraudsters have adopted a dangerous new tactic to trap unsuspecting drivers in ‘crash-for-cash’ scams, new research by the AX motor fraud investigation team has found.
Dubbed ‘hide and crash’, the new 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 warning comes as AX names the five most common tactics currently used by fraudsters to induce accidents and make bogus insurance claims:
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.
“This new tactic is a dangerous progression of the existing ‘slam on’ approach,” Neil Thomas, Director of Investigative Services at AX, explained. “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.”
Typically, fraudsters look for places where it is often unsafe for potential witnesses to stop:
1. Major roundabouts – motorists can be distracted by multiple road signs and signals.
2. Small out-of-town roundabouts – fraudsters have an easy escape route and no CCTV.
3. Busy motorways – eg, ‘Hide and crash’ incidents.
4. Traffic lights – potential witnesses will be reluctant to stop and help.
5. Turning from a side road.
In terms of motorists protecting themselves from fraudulent claims, Neil 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, he said drivers should take a few simple steps to guard against fraud:
1. Count number of occupants.
2. Ask for all names of occupants.
3. Note registration plate of other vehicle(s).
4. Take photographs of the cars before they are moved.
5. Look for independent witnesses or CCTV or use dashcam footage.
6. Keep safe in case others become aggressive.
‘Crash for cash’ is a problem that costs the industry £340 million annually, according to Cifas, the fraud and financial crime specialist.