Wirral 'crash for cash' bogus claim ringleaders jailed
The ringleaders of an estimated £500,000 "crash for cash" insurance scam in Merseyside have been jailed.
Michael Lee, 51, and Brian Williams, 47, admitted making up a car accident in Oxton, Wirral in 2010 and submitting bogus insurance claims.
Lee, of Birkenhead, was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court to 12 months and Williams, from Bootle, to eight months.
Three other men from Birkenhead were given eight-month terms, suspended for two years.
Robert Davies, 57, of Dickens Avenue, Jon Realey, 28, of Fountain Street, and David Paul Thompson, 53, of Cambridge Road, had also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to dishonestly make false representations to make gain for themselves or others.
On sentencing Judge Andrew Menary QC said the "accident" was a complete pretence.
'Significant financial problems'
Lee, of Bolton Road, falsely claimed to LV= his BMW was damaged in a crash with Williams' Vauxhall Vectra on the junction of Alton Road and Beresford Road in January 2010.
Davies, Realey and Thompson, who were passengers in Lee's car, claimed for bogus whiplash injuries.
The court heard if the fraud had worked, costs including car hire, personal injury and legal costs could have totalled more than £500,000.
He said Williams, of Peel Road, and Lee were "more culpable" than the others and "crash for cash" claims have reached "epidemic proportions" across the country.
The court heard all of the five men involved in the fraud had significant financial problems at the time.
Det Insp Dominic Parkin, from City of London Police - which has a specialist unit to investigate insurance fraud - said: "These men thought they could take LV= for a ride by completely making up a two-car smash on a Merseyside road and then submitting huge claims for their supposed injuries, funds for two new cars and expenses from the 'accident'."
As well as suspended sentences Davies, Realey and Thompson were also ordered to do 250 hours of unpaid work.