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Beware the Flash for Cash Car Insurance Fraudsters

Thursday, 26 September 2013

For most of us, a quick flash of the headlights from a fellow driver is an expression of courtesy, which is greatly appreciated, however criminal gangs are exploiting this expression of good manners to profit from an insurance fraud that experts have called ‘flash-for-cash’.

What is Flash for Cash?

Flash for cash is a new take on an old fraud: ‘crash-for-cash’, where gangs deliberately cause or stage accidents by breaking harshly and unexpectedly making it appear as though a car has been shunted by the innocent driver behind.

‘Flash-for-cash’ is more subtle because it uses a commonly used gesture in its normal context which is difficult to pinpoint or prove after the event. A gang member in a car on a main road will flash the headlights to invite an innocent driver waiting in a side road to pull out but rather than giving way the gang member will crash into the car claiming that the innocent driver pulled out without checking first.

Flash for cash fraudsters then make an accident claim against the innocent driver.

Why do Fraudsters do Flash for Cash?

According to the Insurance Fraud Bureau gangs can net up to £30,000 by making exaggerated claims for:

- Personal injury

- Bogus passenger claims

- Loss of earnings

- Vehicle damage

- Vehicle recovery

- Vehicle storage

- Car hire

To maximise their chances of bringing a successful claim, gangs will often target ‘vulnerable drivers’, such as lone female drivers with children or the elderly, as they know that these groups are unlikely to resist or query claims.

Moreover, these groups are less likely to challenge the other driver at the scene. Their focus will often be on the needs of others such as partners or children and they are more inclined to question their own actions and perceptions of what happened and to lose confidence.

Drivers should protect themselves by being vigilant about other drivers’ behaviour. They should keep clear of vehicles exhibiting frequent and erratic breaking and never assume that flashing headlights are a signal to proceed.

Is Flash for Cash a Victimless Crime?

The Metropolitan Police believe that this type of scam costs all policy holders an extra £50 to £100. There is also an emotional cost to the parties involved in an accident and, worse still, the possibility of serious harm such as injury or death.

What should I do if it happens to me?

- Stay calm and do not get angry with others involved

- Do not admit liability or sign any documents

- Call the police and inform them of your suspicions

- Record as much information about the vehicle as possible (make, model no., registration, damage, proof of driver’s identity and ownership)

- Note if the driver’s response sounds rehearsed, or they hand you a document with their details already written out

- If the other vehicle was towed away note the registration of the tow truck

- Take details of witnesses

- Contact your insurer as soon as possible

Anyone involved in an accident where they suspect fraud, should seek immediate legal advice; for more information contact Peter Gourri today by email or telephone 0207 611 4848.

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