Whilst the scams above cause financial and emotional harm, 'Crash for Cash' goes a step beyond by risking serious physical harm.
This is a scam that involves fraudsters deliberately causing a car crash to claim on the victim's insurance. Whilst driving in front of a car, they'll suddenly & without warning slam on their brakes, making it almost impossible for the victim to avoid running into the back of them.
This might happen on a slip road off a motorway, be just before a pedestrian crossing where there aren't actually any pedestrians, or happen at a junction where the fraudster suddenly pulls out in front of a car. As the driver who hits from behind is often deemed at fault, then the fraudsters will insist the victim claim on their insurance, often adding in a claim for injury too.
What to do in an accident if you think it's a scam?
If you are in a crash then adrenaline is pumping & it's not always easy to think straight. If you can however, then do try to remember the following:
- Write lots of notes of what happened - if you don't have a pen & paper handy then use your phone. Include descriptions of everyone involved and exactly what was said.
- Take contact details for everyone and look for any witnesses (but be aware these may be part of the same gang if the crash was a scam).
- Take photographs of the scene and any damage to either car.
- Don’t admit liability for anything, even if you initially think it is your fault or if the other driver tries to blame you.
- Insist on calling the police if you're suspicious, but don't directly challenge the other driver with those suspicions.
- Contact your insurer & tell them of your suspicions as soon as you can. If you're in the UK, contact the Insurance Fraud Bureau and report the accident to their Cheatline.
What else can you do to avoid this scam?
Many drivers are now installing dash cams to provide video footage in case of any accident. These can help insurers to establish true liability, and can provide evidence for the police if it is a scam. Even the presence of a camera (if the fraudster spots it) may prevent you from being chosen as a victim.
The AA have a few driving tips to help avoid these scams:
- Look well ahead and try to anticipate possible hazards.
- Allow plenty of space to the car in front, especially at junctions and pedestrian crossings.
- Be wary of a vehicle in front driving erratically or slowing down for no apparent reason.
- If you suspect that the car in front’s brake lights may not be working keep well out of their way.
- Never assume that flashing headlights is a signal to proceed.
- Don’t assume, when waiting at a junction, that a vehicle coming from the right & signalling left will actually turn. Wait & make sure.