Last Friday, 15 June 2018, marked the conclusion of a series of trials in which a total of 77 fraudsters either pleaded or were found guilty for their role in a major insurance fraud scam.
This follows the second phase of one of the largest investigations into car insurance fraud in the UK. The operation was carried out by the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) in collaboration with its insurer members and Gwent Police.
The original case, which concluded in 2015,saw 81 people prosecuted for their role in the crash for cash scam, in which the fraudsters staged accidents with 57 different vehicles. The investigation uncovered that vehicles were purposefully being crashed into each other so the fraudsters could submit exaggerated and falsified claims in an attempt to increase pay-outs for vehicle damage and personal injury.
Gwent Police had been investigating the conspiracy, which centred around a garage in Cardiff called ‘EASIFIX’, for four-and-a half years and approached IFB in 2011 to help identify the extent of the fraudulent activity. The IFB were able to link the damaged vehicles as well as vehicle parts found at the garage with a number of deceptive insurance claims. Using their advanced analytical systems, IFB were able to initially identify 60 incidents involving around 150 claimants, resulting in the eventual arrest and charging of 87 people by Gwent Police. 81 people were then prosecuted for a range of offences, including conspiracy to defraud and fraud by misrepresentation.
Following the original investigation, a further 22 staged incidents and an additional 80 individuals were identified as being linked to the scam. After the success of the first phase of the investigation, Gwent Police went on to pursue all of the other individuals involved in order to bring them to justice in phase two of the operation.
As a result, on 22 May 2017, the individuals were summonsed to Cwmbran Magistrates’ Court, with 80 being charged with fraud offences relating to the additional 22 incidents. At the time, 15 of the individuals entered guilty pleas at the court, with a further 62 since pleading guilty or being found guilty. Three were found not guilty. Friday marked the conclusion of these trials, with the last of the defendants being handed their verdicts.
Jason Potter, IFB’s Head of Investigations, commented:
“This is a continuation of one of the largest and longest investigations that IFB has been involved in and we’re extremely pleased that the guilty parties in this major scam were pursued for their crimes following a successful collaboration with Gwent Police and our insurer members.
“Crash for cash in any form is an intolerable crime and the fraudulent claims that go along with it ultimately cost honest premium paying motorists money. What have may have seemed to the fraudsters like a quick way to make money has ultimately resulted in a total of 158 guilty verdicts across both phases of the investigation. Let this be a message to anyone considering taking part in this type of illicit activity – you will be caught and you will be prosecuted.”
Senior Investigating Officer at Gwent Police, Steve Maloney said:
“Operation Dino was investigated by a small team of dedicated investigators who had to manage a large number of individuals responsible for a very complex fraud.
“The investigation has brought people to justice for their criminal activity but has also assisted our partners in the insurance industry to prevent future offences of this nature going undetected. Crash for cash scams have a real impact on society and cost the honest policy holders almost £350 million each year.”
Members of the public can play their role in fighting back against insurance fraud by reporting what they know to the IFB’s Cheatline.
The Cheatline, powered by Crimestoppers, is a free service that enables members of the public to anonymously report information or suspicions about insurance fraud by calling 0800 422 0421 or reporting online at www.insurancefraudbureau.org/cheatline.