While we could all benefit from having some extra money these days, there are things that many of us would decide not to do in order to raise cash. A common game that people play amongst their friends is determining how much money it would take for them to do a certain act or place themselves at a certain risk. It can be interesting to know the value that certain people put on certain behaviour and actions, and you can find out a lot about people around you by finding out just how far they would go to bring in money.
For some people, the line would be drawn when it comes to committing a crime that could see them face serious punishment. For other people, the tipping point may come when they face potential injury that could blight their life for a considerable period of time. Different people are comfortable with different scenarios and outcomes, and it seems as though a gang of Chester were quite comfortable with both of these actions.
Every Major Crime needs a Ringleader
The ringleader of this gang, who were undertaking “cash for crash” scams, involving bus passengers, has been found guilty of fraud in Manchester Crown Court. John Smith was the ringleader, and he was found to have been responsible for staging 7 different collisions in Chester which provided over 200 people with the opportunity to make a personal injury claim. It may seem as though this activity is a bit far-fetched, perhaps something more suited to a scene from Better Call Saul or some other American TV drama, but no, it happened here in the United Kingdom.
It would be fair to say that the UK has become a lot more like the USA with respect to the litigious nature of people, and this is the climate that allows this sort of scam to exist. When people have suffered a genuine injury, it is important that they are able to make a claim to ensure that they are properly compensated for any injury and hardship that they have suffered. However, the increased ability to make claims for this sort of injury does provide the opportunity for fraudsters to make the false claims and this was the backdrop to this fraud which police say could have led to more than £1m being incorrectly paid out.
For a Crime of this Scale, there needs to be Teamwork
In addition to Smith, ten other people were found guilty, while Smith, who had denied the charge of attempting to commit fraud, will be sentenced in late April 2015.
All of the incidents took place between 2010 and 2012 and the police advised that there was a similar pattern to all of the accidents. Six of the accidents took place in Chester and a seventh incident took place on the A41 in Eastham. The general pattern of the accident would see a car crashing into the side of a bus, causing a minimal level of impact. However, the accident would lead to a number of injury claims being made by bus passengers. While the driver of the car no doubt knew what he was doing when crashing into the bus, it has to be said that this style of crime carries a risk of serious injury, no matter how confident or experienced the driver may be. Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt in any of the incidents but that may not have been the case. There were a total of 218 claims made for whiplash injuries and soft tissue damage. 177 of these claims were made through the Swift Accident Solutions firm, where Smith was working as a Managing Director at the time.
The scam came to light when the First Group launched an investigation after becoming suspicious of the number of collisions and accidents that their buses were involved in. The court heard how Smith received an average of £900 as a fee for introducing claimants to a solicitor, and it is believed that he made £159,000 from this sort of action.
The police were at pains to point out that the scale of the crime was considerably larger with Det Insp Simon Lonsdale, from Chester Police, saying; “Had all of the false claims created by Smith and his associates been successful we believe that the total cost would have been more than £1m, which would have been paid for by law-abiding citizens through their car insurance policies.”
Andrew Reilly is a freelance writer with a focus on news stories and consumer interest articles. He has been writing professionally for 9 years but has been writing for as long as he can care to remember. When Andrew isn’t sat behind a laptop or researching a story, he will be found watching a gig or a game of football.