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Scam busters.

Byline: By Steve Hughes

Insurance fraud is costing UK motorists more than pounds 15bn a year and now there are moves to tackle some of the scams.

Gangs of drivers are luring unsuspecting motorists to crash into them so that they can make bogus claims amounting to tens of thousands of pounds.

They often pretend to stall their cars at roundabouts, causing cars behind to crash into them and they then claim their vehicle was full of passengers who all suffered whiplash injuries.

There is no physical evidence of whiplash so no proof is required and insurance companies make automatic payouts of up to pounds 8,000 per person.

When one insurance company became suspicious of repeated claims, undercover surveillance revealed that a single gang was responsible for more than 400 claims.

The gang members, who each became very rich from the scam, worked on the basis that there are so many insurance companies that no pattern is likely to emerge. But when one of the insurers noticed that half a dozen of its clients had been rammed on separate occasions at the same spot within a week, it decided to secretly film the gang's activities.

Now an independent company calling itself Crashmate has been formed to issue motorists with glovebox evidence kits to help overcome the problem.

Chris Hill, of Norwich Union, says: "Women and the elderly are the main targets of the fraudsters because it's easier to get an admission of liability from them."

The kit contains a 12-exposure disposable camera, pen, pencil and tape measure. There is also a step-by-step user guide containing the driver's insurance details, road layout diagrams, third-party information and witness forms, police attendance details and other tips.

The company has joined forces with fluorescent garment supplier ICU-UCMe.

Crashmate director Sue Glenn says: "Few people these days are willing to admit liability, even when obviously at fault.

"Some may even concoct stories to put a blameless driver in the wrong."

The kits cost pounds 10 plus postage. More information from www.crashmate.co.uk
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 9, 2005
Words:340
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