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‘Flash for cash’ insurance scam threatens polite drivers

Motorists are used to flashing their headlights to signal to others that they may pull out, but it seems this act of courtesy could land you with more than just a sense of smug satisfaction.

Fraud investigators have warned drivers about a new scam whereby criminals flash their headlights to let drivers pull out ─ before proceeding to ram into them. The criminals can then claim they didn’t they suffered whiplash, fake bills for vehicle recovery, storage, repairs, replacement car hire and even bill insurance firms for loss of earnings.

Gangs involved in the practice can make tens of thousands from each incident, which costs car insurers around £392 million a year. Guess who foots the bill? You and your car insurance premium, unfortunately.

“The problem is a growing problem. Financially it costs insurers £392m a year – that impacts on motorists as it’s an extra £50 to £100 on every person’s premium so that’s a financial cost,” Metropolitan detective inspector Dave Hindmarsh explained.

It’s not just the financial ramifications drivers should be worried about. “[There are] emotional costs… if you’re involved in a crash you could well lose your confidence, and if your passengers are children they may well become wary of being passengers in cars, and of course you may get injured or killed,” he added.

The Asset Protection Unit said criminals tend to target drivers that probably won’t fight back – single mums on the school run or elderly drivers, for instance – as opposed to Vin Diesel lookalikes.

The scam bears an eerie resemblance to an older, similar scam called “crash for cash”, which involves criminals deliberately slamming on their brakes to get a motorist to drive into the back of them.

To improve the chance of success, these criminals sometimes remove the brake light bulbs so the rapidly shrinking distance between you and the rogue car in front is the only visual warning, by which time, it’s probably too late.

Four criminals were jailed in February 2013 after killing 34-year-old Balijinder Kair Gill in an attempted insurance crash scam, the first ever case of a ‘crash for cash’ causing a death.


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