More people will now be looking for payouts by committing fraud, the police and insurance firms have warned.
These crimes range from fake policies offered to struggling motorists on the cheap to claims over accidents that never happened and – in the worst cases – dangerous driving designed to create crashes they can get payouts for.
Ben Fletcher, Insurance Fraud Bureau director, said: “With Covid-19 causing so many people to lose out financially it sadly means there are more opportunities for insurance scammers to exploit the vulnerable.
“These fraudsters don’t care who suffer – from the elderly to key workers, we’ve seen them get targeted.”
Recent figures show fake insurance claims rose by 5% in 2019, but there are concerns the current economic climate could see this figure triple – with fraudulent insurance claims rising by 17% following the 2008 recession.
Currently at least one insurance scam takes place every minute in the UK, costing honest customers more than £3 billion a year.
Mark Allen, fraud and financial crime manager at Association of British Insurers, said: “While the Coronavirus crisis has led to financial hardship for many, no one should think that committing an insurance fraud is a path to easy money.
“From getting a criminal record and possibly a jail sentence, to finding future insurance and other vital financial products like mortgages and loans, much harder to obtain and more expensive, the consequences of committing fraud will be severe and long-lasting.”
Here are the three most common scams that fraudsters are trying on to get payouts for now.
1. Compensation scams
This is when a fraudster or unscrupulous firm contacts you out of the blue to tell you that you may be entitled to compensation.
This could lead to a fraudulent insurance claim or even see your identity stolen if you let slip personal details in the hope of a payout.
And with money tight for millions, the temptation to pursue the claim is higher than ever.
Detective Superintendent Peter Ratcliffe, head of the City of London Police’s economic crime funded units, said:“Fraudsters will use any opportunity to try and steal money from the public, including the exploitation of tragic events such as the current worldwide Covid-19 pandemic.”
2. Ghost Broker scams
A “Ghost Broker” is someone who poses as an insurance provider to offer cheap deals to people who struggle financially. The problem is the deals don’t actually exist.
They can be highly sophisticated – including using real policy documents from other drivers with a few key details faked to make you think you’re covered.
That leaves you uninsured and at risk of a fine or worse and them with the premiums in their pockets.
Other tricks are to take out a policy in your name, but use incorrect details when applying – making it far cheaper than it should be and utterly useless to you.
These fraudsters are known for selling fake car insurance, but with Covid-19 impacting so many people’s work and travel plans, ‘Ghost Brokers’ could also offer deals that claim to compensate further disruption.
And Ghost Broker scams are rising, with the Insurance Fraud Bureau seeing its percentage of investigations into the issue double in recent years.
3. ‘Crash for Cash’ scams
Perhaps worst of all are cash for crash scame – these involve fraudsters intentionally driving dangerously – for example slamming on their brakes with a car close behind – to cause an innocent motorist to crash into them so they can claim compensation.
It’s more common than you might think, with one in every ten injury claims for a motor collision linked to a suspected ‘Crash for Cash’.
The scam often leaves victims injured and facing the loss of their no claims discount.
What to do if you suspect a scam
In an effort to root out the criminals, a national campaign, called “Stop the Scams”, has been launched by the insurance industry.
Evidence of an insurance scam can be reported to the IFB’s confidential and anonymous Cheatline (powered by Crimestoppers) on 0800 422 0421 or online.
The IFB’s Fletcher said: “It’s never been more important to raise public awareness of insurance fraud which is why we’re launching the ‘Stop the Scams’ campaign.
“If anyone sees something that doesn’t look right, they should report it to the IFB Cheatline.”
Detective Superintendent Ratcliffe said: “Our industry partners provide us with valuable intelligence to help us identify suspected fraudsters and carry out this enforcement activity, but we also rely on information from the public.
“As such, it’s vital people report to IFB’s Cheatline when they have information about a suspected insurance fraud or fraudster.”
Source Article from https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/warning-more-people-start-crashing-22761200