A gang who attempted Britain’s largest single “crash for cash” scam have been convicted.
Eight men tried to claim insurance payouts for a bogus bus crash but were undone when video evidence emerged of their delayed reactions.
Ringleader Merrick Williams drove a rented car into the back of the bus carrying seven accomplices – one of whom was filmed falling to the floor.
The others did not move at first following the minor shunt, before they were seen on the bus CCTV holding and rubbing their “injured” necks.
Road crash experts ruled the impact from the collision was minimal – and would only have caused a minor vibration.
When investigators checked on social media, they found that at least two of the claimants were already friends with driver Williams.
Cardiff Crown Court heard insurance investigators became suspicious of the multiple injury claims from the same bus, claims that could have netted £50,000 in insurance payouts.
The eight were prosecuted in the biggest single case investigated by the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department.
The court was told that innocent passengers were put in danger at the “farcical attempt” to sting insurers.
A CCTV camera on the bus showed the rental car twice passing the bus in Cowbridge Road West in Ely, Cardiff, before finally running into the back of it at low speed in May 2014.
Just one passenger fell to the floor – but no one else moved on the impact.
Prosecutor Suzanne Thomas told the court the men were filmed holding their necks and hips after the crash.
She said: “But when the bus driver of the bus called the police and paramedics not a single passenger stepped up to report an injury at the time.
“One of the fraudsters did go to hospital but he did not stay for long enough to be diagnosed or treated.”
Insurance company AIG later received personal injury claims forms from the seven men who were on the bus.
Car driver Williams, 30, of Barry Island, South Wales, was jailed for 12 months and banned from driving for two years after admitting conspiracy to commit fraud.
City of London Police detective constable Aman Taylor, who led the investigation, said afterwards: “The attempted fraud was in a league of its own as this is the largest number of claimants ever tried together in an IFED case.
“By planning the bus crash, the men deliberately put the safety of innocent people, including children, at risk in a bid to make money and take advantage of the personal injury claims system.”
Jason Potter, head of investigations at the Insurance Fraud Bureau, said: “Those who commit crimes of this nature now stand a very good chance of getting caught and facing serious consequences.
“These incredibly dangerous and reckless incidents present a real risk of injury and potentially even death.”
The other seven were handed suspended sentences and ordered to undertake community service after admitting the same fraud conspiracy offence.
They were Kassim Mukbill, 31, Nigel Iti, 24, Hamada Shuyeb, 24, Kieran Murphy, 29, Fami Haddad, 25, Aaron Ryan, 25, and Matthew Saunders, 33, all from Cardiff.
AIG fraud manager David Halstead described the scam as a “particularly devious case”.