Birmingham tops 'crash for cash' postcodes hotspots
Birmingham has topped the UK's "crash for cash" postcode league - the second time in a year the city has featured in a table of hotspots for the crime.
The scams are run by fraudsters who manufacture collisions with other road users, hoping to profit from insurance claims.
In the table, compiled by the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB), Birmingham had 10 of the top 30 postcodes for the crime.
Manchester, Bradford, London and Oldham also featured on the list.
In total, Birmingham has 10 postcodes on the list. Washwood Heath, Aston and Small Heath were the three worst postcodes for the crime in the UK.
In Bradford, Frizinghall and Manningham came joint fourth for the numbers of fraudulent claims, while in Manchester the M8 postcode, which includes Cheetham Hill, was ranked sixth.
A survey carried out by insurance company Aviva in 2016 said 25% of its 3,000 crash for cash claims last year were in Birmingham.
"We don't know the exact reason Birmingham features so heavily in these surveys," said Ben Fletcher, the director of the IFB, a not-for-profit organisation set up to detect fraud.
"Obviously, this is a nationwide problem and we have investigations that range from Kent to the North East, but large urban areas tend to be the focal points for these kind of crimes."
The data applies to the past 12 months. In total, there were 55,573 personal injury claims linked to scams in the UK, the IFB said, costing the insurance industry a total of £340m a year.
The tell-tale signs you've been in a 'crash for cash' scam
- The other driver seems suspiciously calm
- They have already written down their insurance details before the accident happened
- Any injuries appear to be completely at odds with the force of the impact
- If you think you have been targeted, note as much information as you can, take photographs and call the police to report your suspicions
RAF engineer Richard Turner, from Cosford in Shropshire, was caught up in a cash for crash scam.
In October 2014 he was driving over a traffic island on the A41, following a black BMW and an older car.
The BMW suddenly changed lanes, then the other car slammed on the brakes, forcing Mr Turner to crash lightly into the back of it.
His suspicions were raised when the male occupants of the vehicle exited clutching their necks.
As he exchanged details, Mr Turner tried to ring the other driver's number - only to discover it did not work.
He also noticed the driver seemed uncomfortable with him taking photographs of the damage and calling the police to report the crash.
Mr Turner drove home but returned to the island a short time later when he noticed the same cars repeating the same trick three times.
He filmed them, rang the police and posted the incident on social media.
One man who contacted him on Facebook said the scammers had forced a crash with his wife, who was heavily pregnant at the time.
"This is not a victimless crime," said Mr Turner. "Although I told the men I knew it was a scam when they tried to settle the claim, I still had to pay around £400 a year extra to my insurance company in case they did try to force a claim.
"And in the case of the pregnant driver, a crash could have been catastrophic."
Top crash for cash locations in 2017
Source: The not-for-profit organisation Insurance Fraud Bureau