DAMAGED GOODS: Trio convicted for flawed ‘crash for cash’ plot
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A couple from Merseyside, and a man from Cheshire, have been convicted for their involvement in a failed ‘crash for cash’ plot, which could have an inflicted a potential loss of £33,000.
The case was referred to the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) when the insurer became alarmed by a number of factors surrounding the events of the alleged collision. An investigation led by IFED officers uncovered discrepancies which indicated that the accident had in fact been staged.
The trio had all previously pleaded guilty to one count of Fraud by False Representation, and were subsequently convicted at Chester Crown Court on Thursday 4 February 2021 as follows:
- Daniel Smith, 38, of The Marian Close, Bootle, Sefton, received 20 months imprisonment suspended for 18 months and a 30 day rehabilitation activity requirement.
- Daniel Taylor, 36, of Princes Road, Ellesemore Port, Cheshire, received 22 months imprisonment suspended for 18 months, 100 hours of unpaid work and a 35 day rehabilitation activity requirement.
- Natalie Banks, 42, of Grogan Square, Bootle, Sefton received a community order for 18 months and a 20 day rehabilitation activity requirement.
Detective Constable Adam Maskell, from the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department, said:
“With a colourful history of making personal injury claims, it seems that the trio thought they could cheat the system by contriving this collision in order to defraud an insurer out of a substantial amount of money.
“However, it’s quite clear that they did not consider how many glaringly obvious inconsistencies there were in this plot, which quickly caught them out. The group has now been rightfully punished for this audacious attempt.”
On 4 June 2018, Smith took out an insurance policy with an insurance company for a Vauxhall Insignia. Just two days later, Smith contacted the insurer at 11.30 am to report that he had been involved in a Road Traffic Collision in the Ellesmore Port area. According to his initial statement, Smith had been driving to a shopping centre with his partner, Banks, when he became lost and swerved into a stationary vehicle in order to avoid an oncoming car.
Taylor, the owner of the stationary BMW 435D, also contacted the insurer to report that he had been inside his mother’s house when his vehicle, which was parked outside, was struck by Smith.
Both cars were inspected by the insurer and declared a total loss, with the BMW 435D given a pre-accident valuation of £26,265 and the Vauxhall Insignia estimated at £5,260.
Just over two weeks after the alleged collision, the insurer received notification that Banks was claiming for whiplash injuries to her neck, back and shoulders – injuries for which claimants are generally compensated around £2,000.
Whilst managing these claims, the insurer became suspicious of the short amount of time between Smith taking out the policy and the collision occurring, leading the insurer to look further into the group’s backgrounds and the events around the crash.
Searches soon revealed that fifteen personal injury claims had been made between the trio across a seven-year period.
Research conducted by a collisions investigator established that the crash had not occurred in the way that had been reported to the insurer by the vehicle occupants. When later interviewed, Smith was unable to account for the discrepancies, strongly suggesting that it was an induced collision.
Whilst call data from the three claimants’ mobile phones placed Smith and Taylor in the location of the crash at the time it was alleged to have occurred, Banks’ call data showed that she was near her home address around a forty-minute drive away from the scene.
In his original statement to his insurance company, Smith asserted that he had phoned a recovery service before contacting the insurer, and waited with his vehicle for it to be retrieved; however, Smith later contradicted this statement in an interview with IFED officers, claiming that he left the car at the scene and took a taxi home. Phone records additionally exposed that Smith had not contacted a recovery service, which was confirmed by the garage he claimed to have used. CCTV also detected Smith’s vehicle being driven at around 10.24 pm on the day of the crash, refuting his claim that the car was undriveable due to damage and had been recovered to a nearby garage.
When the trio were interviewed by IFED officers, they were unable to account for the inconsistencies, but maintained that the accident was genuine.