An operation to convict network of 19 criminals – including a company boss – which induced car collisions to generate £1.1m in fake personal injury claims was concluded on 15 December at Harrow Crown Court, where 5 men were given jail terms.
The final court date involving the men brings the Metropolitan Police operation to an end, having successfully halted the network’s activities stretching back to 2012. The gang, including its architect Mohammed Zubair Jamil, received prison terms ranging from 16 months to 4.5 years.
Jamil masterminded the elaborate scam which involved teams of fraudsters deliberately causing collisions with innocent motorists and then making false insurance claims through his company, an accident management firm based in Hertfordshire.
Crucially, auto fraud investigators APU, who gave witness testimony in an earlier court case in relation to the telematics data available, provided evidence which was so compelling that all further prosecution witnesses were cancelled.
Ringleader, Jamil, was convicted of eight counts of fraud at Harrow Crown Court and was sentenced to five years in jail in May 2016. The investigation has saved the motor insurance industry an estimated £1.1 million.
In the induced ‘crash for cash’-style collisions, a decoy car would brake heavily in traffic, causing a lead vehicle carrying several passengers to slam its brakes on, typically in front of a pre-selected innocent motorist’s car or van.
The ‘passengers’ would then make fake personal injury claims as a result of the crash, through an accident management firm owned by Jamil. In total, it was estimated that Jamil and his operation had caused up to 300 collisions.
Jamil was caught after an investigation by the Met Police, codenamed Operation Kernow, was started in 2012 when suspicion was raised about a claim involving SAS Accident management.
Significantly, a telematics box had been installed in the ‘lead’ car, which provided data on the fake crash. The data was analysed and interpreted by fraud investigation experts, APU, who gave evidence which was deemed so compelling in court that further prosecution witnesses were no longer required.
Neil Thomas, director of investigative services at APU Ltd, said: “We have been hard on the heels of crash for cash fraudsters for years now and have even identified new tactics the criminal gangs have started to employ.
“We were very pleased to be able to assist the police, the courts and ultimately the victims as expert witnesses. The depth of data available via cutting edge telematics systems necessitates a scientific approach to interpret crucial information into meaningful evidence, then it needs to be presented in court so that the layman can understand it.
“This particular criminal network caused hundreds of fake accidents, all of which were planned but any of which could have gone badly wrong. He and the other men were putting lives at risk and I am delighted that APU and the Met Police have been instrumental in serving justice to another dangerous group of individuals.”
The judge of the trial, HH J Barrie, said: "In short, this was well planned and carefully executed operation involving orchestrated collisions on public roads involving innocent members of the public.
“The idea that crash for cash frauds are victimless crimes has to be rebuffed immediately. The impact of this offending on the insurance industry is substantial and this in turn leads to routine increases in insurance premiums for the wider public.”
“The manner of the driving in the collisions is inherently dangerous involving the sudden slamming on of brakes in traffic, often at night and often in poor weather conditions. Unlike the fraudsters, the innocent occupants of the cars behind have no opportunity to prepare or brace themselves for the impact.
“Moreover no regard is had at all for the occupants of those cars or their vulnerability. In short, the risk to innocent members of the public of serious injury or worse cannot be underestimated in this type of fraud involving deliberate dangerous driving."