'Cash for crash' gang sentenced


A case involving a criminal syndicate that organised a 'crash for cash' car insurance scam - staging road traffic collisions then submitting false insurance claims - concluded at Luton Crown Court yesterday (27 April), with the last three remaining defendants being sentenced to a total of 11 years.

Kamsan 'Kimmy' Mahmood (43) of Lincoln Road, Luton received five years (including six months for a previously-tried indictment of mortgage fraud); Istafa Hussain (35) of Lincoln Road, Luton received four and a half years and Peter Charlery (45) of Carol Close, Luton received 18 months.

A five-year investigation focused on more than 180 accidents dealt with by Swift Accident Management, of which 230 individual claims were made by drivers or passengers. 60 of those accidents were looked at by the force and 46 were fully investigated, resulting in the last 21 claims being presented as evidence at the final trial which concluded two weeks ago. The investigation exposed one of the largest fraud rings the industry has ever seen, uncovering a web of deceit involving people from the legal, medical and motor trades.

A total of 38 defendants appeared at crown court at separate hearings over a period of three years. Two of those defendants, who could not be previously identified for legal reasons, were Saraj Qazi (30) of Westbourne Road, Luton and Majid Hussain (33) of Wychwood Avenue, Luton, who were both convicted of conspiracy to defraud, 'cash for crash' and mortgage fraud, for which they were given five years (Oazi) and five and a half years (Hussain).

33 defendants pleaded guilty to a variety of offences in connection with the £5.3 million insurance and mortgage fraud. The remaining five pleaded not guilty at two separate trials - four have been convicted and one acquitted. A further eight people were cautioned for their involvement in the crime.

CPS Thames and Chiltern prosecutor, Frances Bush, from the Bedfordshire branch, said: 'Many of the 37 offenders involved in the 'cash for crash' and mortgage fraud were supposedly respectable people who thought they were above the law, and that they could make vast sums of money through this criminal activity and get away with it.

'The evidence was strong and this fact led to the majority of the defendants pleading guilty, whilst the jury convicted four of the remaining defendants. All the offenders have now been sentenced accordingly by the courts for their crimes.

'The police and CPS will robustly investigate and prosecute fraudsters and their money and assets will be seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act to ensure that they do not benefit from their crimes. Crime doesn't pay!'

Senior investigating officer and Assistant Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police, Andrew Richer, said: 'In 2006 Luton was a known hotspot for offences, also known as 'cash for crash', but in 2011 that is no longer the case. False details about the accidents were provided to insurance companies and bogus documents were created. Some vehicles were deliberately damaged in order to support the claims, made in respect of damage to the vehicles, personal injuries, recovery costs, hire vehicles, legal costs and loss of earnings.'

Insurance Fraud Bureau director, Glen Marr, concluded: 'The insurance industry does not and will not tolerate fraud. It has an impact on the cost of insurance for genuine consumers and the industry is committed to rooting out and bringing to justice those criminals who target insurers. This operation further reinforces the risks fraudsters face when seeking to deceive insurers and the personal consequences of their actions. We would also like to encourage anyone with any information concerning those who are organising insurance fraud to contact us through our confidential Cheatline on 0800 328 2550.'