A detective who led an investigation running for three-and-a-half years to smash a "crash-for-cash" gang said its members were "playing a dangerous game".
And Detective Constable Kev Handley said ALL drivers are left to pick up the tab for the £420,000 fraud. He was speaking after five men were convicted of conspiracy to commit fraud yesterday at Nottingham Crown Court. Five other men and two women had already pleaded guilty to the charge.
He said: "In my eyes, these people who are inducing road-traffic collisions have no control of the impact of the vehicles and they are one step away from causing serious injury. For example, there could be an elderly person or children in the vehicle. It's a dangerous game they are playing."
Det Con Handley led the probe into the conspiracy which involved 41 collisions – 10 of which took place at, or close to, Markeaton island – between November 2011 and March 2013. The ploy involved one of the crooks slamming on his brakes in a car, causing an innocent motorist to drive into the back of him. After a four-week trial, a jury yesterday convicted five of six defendants who denied the charges.
Det Con Handley said: "The group of people at the centre of this investigation made fraudulent claims for injuries, damage caused to their vehicles and the costs of recovering and storing the damaged vehicles. The guilty verdicts given by the jury hopefully sends out a message that this type of crime will be taken seriously, investigated thoroughly and will not be tolerated. My heart goes out to all the victims targeted. But we are all victims really, because it affects everybody's insurance premiums."
Ben Fletcher, director of the Insurance Fraud Bureau, which worked with Derbyshire police, said: "Crash for cash has a real impact on society and puts innocent people at risk of serious injury. There is not only a physical impact but also significant cost associated, as we estimate 'crash for cash' costs the industry £336 million per year. This puts a financial burden on insurers and ultimately premium-paying motorists.
"IFB, alongside the insurance industry and police, are determined to uncover cross-industry insurance fraud and the convictions send a clear message – if you are committing fraud the risk of being caught and prosecuted is very real."
The five people found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud were Adeel Aziz, 27, of Colwyn Avenue, Normanton; Darminder Singh Nagra, 47, of Gregory's Way, Belper; Davinder Singh Nagra, 40, of Arkwright Avenue, Belper; Adam Stark, 26, of Trenton Drive, Long Eaton and Arsalaan Hussain, 28, of New Street, Brierley, Bradford. Stark was also found guilty of perverting the course of justice.
A sixth man, Tusaf Ahmed, 32, of Colwyn Avenue, Normanton, was also on trial but found not guilty of the conspiracy.
Seven people have already pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit fraud in connection to the case. They are Muhammed Tanzil Asghar, 28, of Harrington Street, Pear Tree, Derby; Martin Walker, 29, of Hopton Close, Ripley; Dorothy Bacon, 28, of Cedar Avenue, Ripley; Liam Swinfield, 22, of Northfield Avenue, Sawley; Anthony Walker, 22, of Loscoe Road, Heanor; Nicola Rae Brown, 24, of Edinburgh Court, Alfreton; and Naseer Ahmed, 26, of Ferris Road, Sheffield. They are due to be sentenced in April.
During the trial, Simon Ash, prosecuting, told the jury that the method used with most of the collisions in the case involved two cars that would snare a so-called "target" car. He said the front car would often swerve violently and the second car would brake suddenly.
The "target" car would then crash into the back of the second car, admit liability and the insurance claims would go in. Mr Ash said often a "lone female" or "elderly" victim would be involved in the collisions. He said the group set up two claims' management companies, one called Derby Enterprise Solutions, based in Horsley Woodhouse and the other, called TTM Recovery Ltd, based in Heanor, which handled all the claims.
He said the director of DES was Darminder Singh Nagra, and its company secretary was his brother Davinder.
Mr Ash said Arsalaan Hussain, arranged for vehicle assessment reports to be carried out before claims were sent to insurance companies.
But Mr Ash said these were filled out fraudulently and Hussain had not even seen and assessed the vehicles. The jury also heard that medical reports required by insurance companies for any injuries caused in the collisions were sometimes sent in with false identities, which the gang had stolen from innocent people.
"Adam Stark played a part in this," said Mr Ash. The jury heard that one witness told police he was offered £500 to become involved in the conspiracy. In a statement, Matthew Townsend said he had been offered money by Martin Walker, who told him "all you have to do is drive around and get involved in an accident".
The statement went on: "He said I would be paid £500. I turned it down. He said he was working for a group of Asian males."
One of the collisions in the conspiracy took place on the A5132 at Willington in March 2012. The "target" driver was Louise Whitmore, a forecourt cashier in Willington, who was on her way to work when the collision happened.
In a statement, read to the court, she said: "I pulled up to a junction where there were two cars whose occupants appeared to communicating with each other visually. They both turned left and I followed them. Car one suddenly turned sharp left and car two braked suddenly, causing me to go into the back of it. I was driving at around 20mph."
In her statement, Miss Whitmore said she and the driver of the other car got out and exchanged details and she said the damage to the other car was "a crack to the bumper".
She said she would have been surprised if there were any claims for injury as it was such a minor accident. However, the jury heard that three claims were made, one in the name of Matthew Townsend. But Mr Townsend told police that he was not involved in the crash and did not even know where the road was.
Source: Derby Telegraph