Two men have been arrested after a police probe into a “cash-for-crash” scam believed to have cost insurers £100,000.
Officers from West Midlands Police’s Economic Crime Unit raided addresses in Washwood Heath and Alum Rock, plus another in Telford, today, Tuesday March 5.
The raids came as part of an operation targeting criminal gangs which stage collisions to claim compensation .
The men, both Aghan nationals aged 34 and 45, were arrested at the Birmingham addresses and were being held on suspicion of fraud and dangerous driving.
Five vehicles believed to have been used to commit the offences were also seized while documents were recovered from the Telford address.
It was alleged the men were behind up to 50 cash-for-crash collisions in the Midlands, including around the landmark Five Ways island at the top of Broad Street , plus Warwickshire and Evesham.
In January, BirminghamLive revealed footage showing what appeared to be, a number of staged collisions on Five Ways island.
It was unclear if that footage was linked to the arrests.
Watch the footage above.
Det Insp Kerrie Martin, from the Economic Crime Unit, said: “Offenders will jam their brakes on at roundabouts in a bid to force the following vehicle to crash into them – and we believe there have been at least ten such incidents recently at Five Ways.
“Our suspicion is these men have claimed around £100,000 from bogus insurance claims – but we are running a wider operation into an organised crime group, alongside the Insurance Fraud Bureau, that may have made millions from this scam over the last two years.”
A 30-year-old man from Lichfield was arrested on February 13 in connection with the Five Ways collisions and was been released under investigation as enquiries progressed.
The West Midlands has been identified as a UK cash-for-crash ‘hot spot’ with Birmingham having ten of the top 30 postcodes identified by the Insurance Fraud Bureau.
Det Insp Martin said drivers could protect themselves against becoming victims by keeping their distance from the car in front and taking extra care at roundabouts.
She added: “Drivers should also be wary of vehicles with brake lights that aren’t working as this can often be a ploy used by cash-for-crash offenders as it again gives victims less time to react to their sudden braking.
“Having a dashcam is also a good way to capture evidence of these type of collisions.
“If anyone believes they’ve been the victim of a staged ‘accident’ then they should contact police while at the scene and take photographic evidence.”
Stephen Dalton, Head of Intelligence at the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) added: “The IFB have been working with West Midlands Police on this extensive and complex investigation over the past year and today marked significant progress.
“Insurance fraud is not a victimless crime. Organised gangs involved in Crash for Cash scams put the lives of innocent members of the public at risk by deliberately causing collisions to line their own pockets from bogus insurance claims.
“Today’s outcome is a strong example that shows the result of police working together with the industry to put a stop to this activity. We will continue to work in partnership with West Midlands Police to bring justice to all those who engage in these reckless fraudulent schemes.”
Anyone who suspects someone may be involved with cash-for-crash is urged to call the charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or the Insurance Fraud Bureau on 0800 422 0421.