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Manchester bus ‘crash for cash’ fraudsters sentenced for £500k insurance scam

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A bus inspector and a Mercedes driver have been sentenced for orchestrating a crash between the two vehicles on a Manchester B road in an attempt to claim £500,000 from insurers.

Asan Akram was jailed for 16 months while Tariq Iqbal was handed a 12 month prison term suspended for two years and ordered to undertake 250 hours unpaid work when they appeared at Manchester Crown Court today (Tuesday 11th November 2014).

This comes after the insurer of the Finglands double-decker bus, QBE, referred suspicions about 29 claims it received following the collision to the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) in January 2012.

The insurer’s solicitors, DAC Beachcroft, gave IFED CCTV footage taken from the route 42 bus the night of the crash in February 2011. The bus is seen travelling along Wilmslow Road when Iqbal’s Mercedes performs an emergency stop causing the double-decker to slam into the back of it.

IFED detectives arrested nine people, and conducted voluntary interviews with four others, who had been travelling on the bus and in the Mercedes at the time of the crash or were suspected to be involved in the scam.

Iqbal was arrested at his home on St Ann’s Road in Cheadle in June 2012 and, after more than a year of searching, bus inspector Akram was picked up at his new workplace in December 2013.

Detectives had discovered that Akram, who compiled a report on the collision the night of the crash in his role as Finglands’ duty inspector, did not flag the incident to his senior managers according to the company’s protocol. They also found out that he was later sacked from Finglands for lying about previous convictions on his job application form.

The investigation team had also established from phone records that Akram and Iqbal had contacted each other on their mobile phones more than 100 times in the days leading up to the smash.

From studying all this evidence they concluded that Iqbal had deliberately slammed on the brakes of his Mercedes to cause the crash and that Akram was the ‘insider’ whose report would convince the insurer that the collision was genuine.

45-year-old Akram, of Ringwood Avenue in Manchester, and 42-year-old Iqbal admitted conspiring to defraud QBE at Manchester Crown Court in October 2014.

City of London Police Detective Constable Mark Reynolds, who led the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department’s investigation, said: “This was a long-running and complex investigation which has ultimately proved that Akram and Iqbal meticulously planned to commit insurance fraud on a massive scale.

“The fact that their attempted scam put lives at risk by causing a crash with a packed double-decker bus on a busy road at night was inconsequential to them. They wanted half a million pounds from an insurer and were prepared to go to any length to get it.

“But what both men did not reckon on was IFED and the insurance industry working together to identify and track down criminals and have them brought to justice.”

No further action was taken against the eleven other people spoken to in the course of the investigation.

Dominic Clayden, Claims Director at QBE, said: “This is a great result after a complex investigation with officers at IFED. The targeting of public service vehicles to obtain money through personal injury compensation claims is becoming more and more apparent. QBE is committed to identifying and pursuing fraudulent claims that are made against our clients. We believe this case and the sentences handed down will send a stark message that there are severe penalties for those who attempt to fraudulently make claims at the expense of our policyholders and the insurance sector in general.”

Lorraine Carolan, Head of the Claims Validation Team at DAC Beachcroft, said: "This was a highly organised, complex fraud which has required close collaboration between DAC Beachcroft, QBE, Finglands and IFED for over three years to secure convictions in this case. I am delighted that our lawyers and Intelligence Team have been able to work in partnership with QBE, utilising our unique intelligence services skill set to successfully tackle this fraud."

Members of the public are urged to report so-called suspected ‘crash for cash’ incidents to the Insurance Fraud Bureau, which co-ordinates the insurance industry response to the identification of criminal fraud networks and works closely with the police and law enforcement agencies. The Bureau has a free and confidential Cheatline on 0800 422 0421.

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