Crash for cash gangs are spreading out and targeting people in towns and sometimes even rural villages, the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) is warning.
The scams often involve fraudsters slamming on their brakes at busy junctions and roundabouts so the driver behind cannot stop in time.
Sometimes this is done with an accomplice in a second vehicle driving erratically in front, so they can divert the victim’s suspicions by saying the driver in front, who fled the scene, caused the accident.
They are also known to encourage other drivers to pull out of side roads or wait until they creep forward for a better view, only to crash into the side of them.
The IFB identified Frome in Somerset; Worksop in Nottinghamshire; Cirencester in Gloucestershire; Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire; Nottingham in Nottinghamshire; Shrewsbury in Shropshire; Warrington in Cheshire; Ashby and Leicester in Leicestershire and Derby in Derbyshire as being among the areas targeted by gangs in the past 12 months.
There is also evidence to suggest gangs are targeting rural villages with the dangerous tactic, it said.
The IFB said there are concerns that if local drivers do not know to look out for signs of the scam and report it, cases could rise fast.
Over the past 12 months we've found dangerous #CrashforCash gangs are increasingly spreading out from scam hotspots to cause collisions in unsuspecting areas.
— Insurance Fraud Bureau (@TheIFB) June 14, 2022
Ben Fletcher, director at the IFB, said: “Crash for cash fraudsters are known to evolve their tactics and the latest evidence shows that they’ve started spreading out from prominent crime hotspots to less suspecting towns and cities in the hope that they can avoid detection.
“This change in tactic brings home the fact that no matter where people may live, everyone should be on their guard to these reckless car crash scams.
“To help us stop cases from rising and bring these fraudsters to justice, we urge drivers to look out for signs of crash for cash scams and to report any evidence of it to us straight away.”
There are also fears that the cost-of-living crisis could make these scams more prevalent.
Tom Hill, Detective Chief Inspector at City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED), said: “As we have seen in the past, a rise in cost of living and resulting financial hardships can often drive people to commit fraud. Unfortunately, this means that the public need to be even more alert than usual to fraudsters, like crash for cash drivers.”