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On Thursday 17 December 2020 at Birmingham Crown Court, a serial fraudster was sentenced for five ‘crash for cash’ plots targeting four separate insurers: Direct Line, Aviva, RSA and Allianz. Shehzad Saeed, 33, of Redstone Farm Road, Solihull, Birmingham, was involved in a number of staged and deliberate road traffic collisions, which were linked by police through their noticeable similarities. He received a two year sentence suspended for two years, with conditions including 240 hours of unpaid work and repaying £1500 in costs.
From 2015 to 2017, the father of five used various names to make insurance claims for accidents in and around Birmingham, as well as registering fraudulent policies to an address inhabited by his grandmother and other relatives. Saeed also endangered innocent members of the public by causing them to crash into his vehicle.
Saeed manipulated his position as sole director of a car hire company to produce fake engineer reports detailing the damage, attributing these to an innocent engineer who was confirmed to be on holiday at the time of one of the alleged inspections. The bank account associated with the car hire company was also used to receive the compensation paid out by the insurers.
Detective Constable James Rafiq, who led the investigation for the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) at the City of London Police, said:
“Saeed was both ruthless and selfish in his attempts at financial gain through bogus insurance claims. The fraudster had no qualms in potentially incriminating both the innocent engineer who was unwittingly dragged into his criminal activity, and also his own family.
“Had he been successful in his attempts, Saeed would have inflicted a potential loss of over £35,000 to four widely-used insurers. Losses through fraudulent activity like this are the cause of increased premiums for law-abiding policy holders.
“This is yet another case which demonstrates that insurance fraud is not a victimless crime, and we are pleased Saeed has been brought to justice for his offences.”
Saeed’s criminality was first uncovered when the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) received intelligence from its insurer members in 2016 of suspicious motor collisions taking place in the West Midlands. With the support of the IFB, the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) commenced investigations shortly afterwards.
Officers from IFED discovered that Saeed first reported a fake road traffic collision on 5 March 2015, when he claimed a Mercedes had crashed into the rear of his Ford Focus. This incident allegedly took place the day after a seven-day policy with Aviva was taken out by the Mercedes driver, which raised concerns for the insurer. It transpired that Saeed had used an alias to pretend to be the Mercedes driver and take out the policy, but his lies were found out when the address provided for the Mercedes driver was found to be unoccupied and the images of the damage to Saeed’s car in the engineer’s report dated back to two years before the ‘crash’ took place.
Five days later, another accident was reported to RSA. Saeed used the same alias, although he was now driving a Volvo XC60, and again claimed the accident had happened just days after a seven day policy was taken out with the insurer. The police investigation discovered that the Volvo had been offered for sale on eBay just one day before Saeed took out the policy, and was listed as already damaged in the item description.
Further investigations by IFED found that Saeed continued to use similar methods across three further claims, adopting false names and addresses, forging engineer reports and channelling compensation into his company’s account.
Stephen Dalton, Head of Intelligence and Investigations at the Insurance Fraud Bureau, said:
“Mr Saeed would lure innocent people into car crashes so he could make some quick cash at the expense of their distress. Thanks to the collaborative work of the IFB, IFED and the wider insurance industry, we were able to detect these shameless ‘Crash for Cash’ scams and take action. This sentencing should serve as a clear message to anyone thinking about committing fraud that they will be caught and face justice.”
Adele Sumner, Head of Counter Fraud Strategy at RSA, said:
“Saeed was a prolific and serial fraudster who used false names to evade capture, and it’s only right that he has been brought to justice. The selfish and deceptive actions of criminals like Saeed, who make false claims for their own personal gain, pushes up the cost of insurance for honest customers. This sentencing is therefore positive news and is a good example of how the industry works together to prosecute serial fraudsters and protect customers.”
Mike Brown, Head of Fraud Counter Intelligence at Direct Line, said:
“Saeed has shown total disregard for the safety of innocent third parties, through his contrived efforts to secure financial gain in committing insurance fraud whilst utilising his various aliases. We have worked closely with IFED, assisting them in preparing this case for criminal prosecution.”
“Successful prosecutions like this one, protect the wider public and enables Direct Line to protect the premiums of our innocent customers. Insurance fraud is not a victimless crime and we are committed to working in partnership with law enforcement agencies to detect, disrupt and prosecute those involved in this type of criminality. The sentences handed down should serve as a stark warning to those that seek to commit insurance fraud in the future."
James Burge, Fraud Manager at Allianz Insurance, said:
“We know very well that insurance fraud affects us all and it’s absolutely vital that we continue to collaborate across the industry to fight fraud and protect the interests of genuine customers. Mr Saeed preyed on the vulnerable to seek personal gain and his sentence should deter others thinking about committing insurance fraud.”
Tom Gardiner, Head of Fraud at Aviva, said:
“Mr Saeed was involved in making multiple fraudulent claims against Aviva and other insurers. I’m pleased that this was detected and that we avoided paying thousands of pounds – which otherwise pushes up premiums for our genuine customers. This case demonstrates that insurers and the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department will work together to detect and prosecute the plague of fraudulent whiplash claims in the UK – and underlines the need for Legal Reforms in April to address the disproportionate compensation and profit which motivates these crimes.”