A man has been sentenced to 12 months in prison for conspiracy to commit fraud and dangerous driving, while seven of his accomplices received suspended sentences after they all pleaded guilty to making fraudulent claims for injuries from a fake bus crash which they set up.
The City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) was contacted in August 2014 by the American Insurance Group (AIG), insurance provider to a car rental company, about a crash between a bus and a car that was believed to be suspicious due to the extent of injury claims that were made.
On 21st May 2014, a silver car, driven by Merrick Williams, crashed into the back of a bus on Cowbridge Road West in Cardiff. The CCTV taken from the bus shows that, at 20:52 the car passed the bus on two occasions, then on the third occasion it collided with the back of the bus at low speed.
While one passenger appeared to be thrown to the floor when the car hit the bus, none of the other passengers moved. Shortly after the crash, Nigel Thomas Iti was seen on the CCTV holding his right-hand side while Matthew Saunders held the back of his neck whilst walking through the bus. Hamada Shuyeb was seen holding the right-hand side of his hip and lower back. Kieran Murphy and Fahmi Haddad left the bus, while Aaron Ryan and Kurt Taylor walked around inside. Kassim Mukbill gathered the other passengers together to walk down to the front of the bus.
The driver of the bus called for the police and paramedics to attend. However, no-one presented themselves as injured. South Wales Police attended the scene and noted that there was minimal damage to the bus. A risk solutions expert, who assessed the bus and the car, found that the passengers would only have experienced minor vibration from the impact. The impact was deemed too small to have caused any injuries.
AIG, who insured the vehicle driven by Williams, received personal injury claim forms from all of the defendants, except Merrick Williams. Medical reports were submitted for Murphy, Thomas Iti, Ryan, Saunders and Shuyeb. Evidence shows that Saunders attended the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff on the date of the crash but did not stay long enough to be diagnosed or treated.
Following these claims the case was passed to the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB), who coordinated the investigation with IFED and AIG. An AIG investigator was appointed to obtain witness statements from the bus passengers and from those who had submitted claims. He was unable to obtain statements from any of the nine defendants.
On further investigation it was discovered that Thomas Iti and Mukbill were friends with Williams on social media prior to the bus collision.
In light of the issues raised by the AIG investigator, AIG contacted IFED and raised its concerns as the car involved in the collision was hired through the car rental company insured by AIG. As such, the liability for the crash and any subsequent claims would lie with AIG.
Murphy, Thomas Iti, Haddad and Shuyeb were arrested on 15 December 2014. Saunders, Ryan and Mukbill were interviewed voluntarily by IFED officers at Cardiff Bay Police Station between May and June 2015.
City of London Police’s Detective Constable Aman Taylor, who led the investigation for IFED, said:
“This is the largest number of claimants tried together for an Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department case and shows the extent that people will go to for greed and money. By planning the bus crash, the men deliberately put the safety of innocent people, including children, at risk in a bid to make money and take advantage of the personal injury claims system. The sentence that has been handed down to these eight men today is a significant example of how seriously we take crimes like this.”
David Halstead, Fraud Manager at AIG said:
“Insurance fraud impacts all customers. We are extremely grateful to IFED and IFB for their hard work in bringing the perpetrators to justice in this particularly devious case, and we will continue working to support all parties involved in stamping out insurance fraud.”
IFB’s Head of Investigations Jason Potter said:
“Crash for cash scams like this might seem to some to be a harmless way to beat the system and get an easy pay out but in reality, those who commit crimes of this nature now stand a very good chance of getting caught and facing serious consequences. These scams put other motorist’s lives at risk and as an industry we are working hard to tackle this type of behaviour. Fraudsters are taking vehicles out on public roads and forcing innocent people into needless collisions. These incredibly dangerous and reckless incidents present a real risk of injury and potentially even death.”
Geoffrey Simmons Insurance Consultants LLP
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