Unlucky Number Seven: seven sentenced for fictitious collision
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Seven men have been sentenced for attempting to make insurance claims for a bogus road traffic collision.
The City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) began investigating the case in September 2019, after six men, aged between 32 and 56, all claimed to have been involved in a collision between two vehicles. However, as the insurer became suspicious of their claims and investigated further, discrepancies began to show in the gang’s story, revealing that these cars had been deliberately damaged in order to make insurance claims.
Another man, the owner of a local recovery service, was also sentenced for his involvement in the plot.
Six of the men were initially sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court on Tuesday 10 August 2021 as follows:
- David Cutts, 56, of Keswick Road, Worksop, sentenced to 10 months imprisonment suspended for 21 months and ordered to pay £3,978 in costs.
- Harry Hookings, 33, of Jubilee Road, Retford, sentenced to 10 months imprisonment suspended for 21 months and ordered to pay £5,268.20 in costs.
- Karl Anthony White, 35, of Cherry Holt, Retford, sentenced to 10 months imprisonment suspended for 21 months and ordered to pay £1,043 in costs.
- Adam Lane, 32, of Whinney Moor Lane, Retford, sentenced to 10 months imprisonment suspended for 21 months and ordered to pay £518 in costs.
- Dean Thackery, 49, of Doncaster Road, Carlton in Lindrick, Worksop, sentenced to 10 months imprisonment suspended for 21 months and ordered to pay £518 in costs.
- William Alfred Hirrel, 35, of Holmes Road, Retford, sentenced to 10 months imprisonment suspended for 21 months and ordered to pay £518 in costs.
Robert Perry, 56, of Elmwood Close, Retford, was later sentenced on Tuesday 24 August 2021 to sentenced to 10 months imprisonment suspended for 21 months and ordered to pay £518 in costs.
Detective Constable Justin Hawes, from the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department, said:
“This group of criminals has attempted to exploit a system intended to support genuine customers, through a flawed ‘crash for cash’ plot. Whilst many consider this type of fraud to be a victimless crime, it certainly is not.
“‘Crash for cash’ crimes affect everyone, pushing up the costs of premiums and putting the lives of others on the road at risk. We must remember that behind every case of insurance fraud, there is a human victim, and these damaging actions must have consequences.”
Acromas was initially notified of the alleged crash by Cutts on 11 January 2019, around two hours after the accident supposedly took place. Cutts reported that he was driving with two passengers (Perry and Thackery), when he pulled his BMW 525 out of a junction to turn right, colliding with Hookings’ BMW Estate, also containing two passengers (Lane and Hirrel). Cutts claimed full liability for the accident, owing to a “momentary lack of concentration”.
Cutts stated that he used a search engine on his mobile phone to find a recovery service, and subsequently called KLB Recovery. White, of KLB Recovery, supposedly collected both vehicles from the scene and stored them at the company’s yard.
As the airbags in Cutts’ vehicle were deployed in the ‘crash’, the car was deemed an immediate total loss. A payment of £3,760, minus the £400 excess, was made, plus an additional £100 at a later date, following a complaint from Cutts regarding the valuation. Hookings’ vehicle was also inspected and declared a total loss, with a payment of £4,750 made. Hookings also disputed the valuation, though unsuccessfully.
Over the three weeks following the ‘accident’, five of the men involved contacted Acromas to claim personal injury and loss of earnings as a result of not being able to work. Some of them rejected the initial offers, with one citing that an involved party had been offered more money when he “hadn’t even got an injury”.
After agreeing individual compensation sums in the region of £1,200-£2,000, Acromas then received numerous calls from the various parties, chasing payment. One went so far as to complain that he was “going away” and was “relying on the money” to do so. Little did the men know, the insurer had contacted IFED about the claims, suspecting they were fraudulent, and an investigation had been launched.
Evidence gathered during the investigation which disproved the claims included call data from two of the men involved, which indicated that they were not even in the area at the time of the accident, whilst another was reported by his employer to be over twenty miles away from the scene when the ‘collision’ occurred. Further call data also revealed that no calls were made to KLB Recovery, and social media links between all claimants were uncovered, proving they all knew each other before the alleged accident.
Whilst being interviewed, four members of the group admitted that the accident never happened.