UK drivers are being warned about a new type of scam which is being adopted by fraudsters across the country. The tactic dubbed ‘hide and crash’ is an evolution of previous tactics and involves a fraudster hiding in a driver’s blind-spot before quickly moving in front to ‘slam on’ the brakes. According to anti-fraud experts, the tactic is being used to try and trap unsuspecting drivers in a ‘crash for cash’ scam. The warning comes from experts at AX, which has previously exposed ‘flash for crash’ scams.
This type of scam sees a fraudster flash their headlights to invite an innocent driver to pull out of a junction before accelerating to cause a collision.
The effect of ‘crash for cash’ scams is huge with it estimated to cost the industry £340 million annually. Car insurance premiums are inflated for the average driver as a result of the scam.
The latest ‘hide and crash’ trend was noticed when AX detected several suspicious claims displaying near identical characteristics.
“This new tactic is a dangerous progression of the existing ‘slam on’ approach,” explained Neil Thomas, Director of Investigative Services at AX.
“Criminals can take cover in a driver’s blind spot, wait for the ideal moment, then accelerate and move into their pathway before slamming on the brakes.”
Thomas added: “Detecting new methods deployed by gangs is notoriously difficult and without video evidence, it is often difficult to prove who was really at fault.
“Intelligence-sharing amongst insurers and the authorities can help, nevertheless drivers should always be vigilant.
“Collectively, we can minimise the impact of these increasingly sophisticated criminals.”
Thomas states that it is hard for motorists to effectively protect themselves from being a target of fraud of this type but offers some bits of advice.
“It is hard to avoid being a victim of a staged accident but watch for passengers looking back, and do not interpret flashing headlights as an automatic invitation to pull out of a side road,” he advises.
“In the event of an accident, drivers should take a few simple steps to guard against fraud. Count the number of occupants and ask for names.
“Then be sure to note the registration plates of the other vehicles. This is critical information which is easy to miss in heat of the moment but can help insurers and fraud experts build up a true picture of events.”
TOP-5 TACTICS USED TO INDUCE ACCIDENTS
(ACCORDING TO AX’S NEIL THOMAS)
1. Traditional ‘slam on’ accidents – a vehicle in front intentionally slams on the brakes to catch out the driver behind
2. Flash for crash – when a driver flashes their lights to beckon another vehicle forward but then drives into them
3. Crash for ready cash – a third-party requests cash to fix their vehicle after they have induced a collision
4. Hide and crash – a vehicle ‘hides’ in the blind spot of another car before moving in front and braking hard
5. Hire and crash – where a criminal hires a car and stages an accident with another vehicle, usually someone they know
TOP-5 LOCATIONS FAVOURED BY FRAUDSTERS
(ACCORDING TO AX’S NEIL THOMAS)
1. Major Roundabouts – motorists can be distracted by multiple road signs and signals
2. Small out-of-town roundabouts – fraudsters have an easy escape route and no CCTV
3. Busy motorways – e.g. ‘Hide and crash’ incidents
4. Traffic lights – potential witnesses will be reluctant to stop and help
5. Turning from a side road