A group of men appear to be targeting lone women drivers in Northamptonshire in order to make fraudulent insurance claims.
The incidents took place on the West Haddon roundabout on the A428 over the course of a weekend in late March.
Our journalists spoke with two victims, both of whom wish to remain anonymous. The first woman described how a car with no brake lights stopped suddenly on the roundabout despite there being no traffic oncoming, causing her to run into the vehicle in front.
“I pulled over then three men got out. Instantly, you stop and think, ‘it’s a scam’. But with a daughter in the car, you just want to get away,” she said.
“They’re very calm, over-friendly at times. They got annoyed when I saw to my daughter, who was crying, rather than giving them my details.
“They obviously don’t want you to call the police so they try to be nice.”
The woman later saw on Facebook that two other women, also travelling alone, had had similar experiences.
The second woman with whom we spoke found herself behind the men’s car at the roundabout and described their technique for inducing the accident.
“We came up to the second roundabout, everything was fine, they went. Then all of a sudden, as you go to make your final check to your right for oncoming traffic, they slam on their brakes so that you go into the back of them.
“Thankfully, I barely touched them so there wasn’t much damage, and someone behind me witnessed it and pulled over.
“The men were very insistent that the witness should leave, that she didn’t need to be there and that everything was fine.”
The woman who was targeted by the men was wary because she had read about similar incidents happening at the roundabout. She noticed that the driver did not take any photos or assess the damage, and she described him as “strangely calm.”
“He had a piece of paper and a pen ready to go and all he was interested in was taking my details,” she said.
“Before the woman stopped both of the men got out the car as if to intimidate me, as soon as the witness got out of her car, the passenger jumped straight back in and just didn’t say a word.”
She believes that the men could be seeking to get money off people if the gang don’t end up making a claim against the women - because he tried to ring her several times to tell her that his car bumper was hanging off.
She knew he was lying, however, as she had taken photos immediately after the accident. These incidents come after the police issued a warning about ‘cash for crash’ incidents back in February this year.
The police do not typically handle these types of issues because they are considered insurance fraud, and are therefore primarily managed by the insurance companies.
A police spokesperson said: “In recent weeks, a number of alleged incidents in the Daventry area have been reported to us where fraudsters may have taken advantage of motor insurance companies which often pay off small, uncontested, or difficult-to-defend claims from drivers of cars involved in minor collisions.
“By making such uncontested claims, claimants can often receive considerable sums of compensation, sometimes up to £1,000 at a time. “The tactics employed by the offenders also means that the true identity of the people who own the cars involved can never be established.”
The police advised motorists involved in these types of accidents to use their phone to capture as much photographic evidence as possible, providing it is safe to do so.
They also recommended fitting a dashboard video camera. If you believe you are a victim of a cash for crash the police advise reporting the incident to them, alerting your insurer at the earliest opportunity, and checking they will not automatically pay out a claim without an investigation.
More information can be found at https://www.insurancefraudbureau.org. The Insurance Fraud Bureau works with insurers and the police to identify where the trends are.