Naveed Shah (37) of Blackburn Road, Great Harwood, Lancashire, used the scam to try and steal hire cars – collectively worth £200,000 – that he booked when reporting the fake accidents.
He was caught after a sting operation was carried out by anti-fraud unit, APU Ltd, when he tried to hire a car from accident management firm, Accident Exchange.
Shah pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to make false insurance claims and steal courtesy cars at Preston Crown Court today.
He will return for sentencing on June 16. Judge H. Lloyd warned him that a custodial sentence is “most likely”.
Shah used the false identity details to make hire car bookings with claims firms. He would then change the delivery location at the last minute, typically asking for cars to be handed over in the North of England, often at medical facilities where he claimed to be working or visiting sick relatives.
He fabricated crashes in the South of England, East Midlands and West Midlands and, having obtained a hire car, would quickly dispose of it before adopting a different identity and targeting another hire company.
In total, over £200k worth of cars disappeared without trace, leaving the companies no way of uncovering the true identity of the fraudster.
After attempting to claim a hire car from Accident Exchange, anti-motor fraud specialist, APU Ltd, flagged the claim as suspicious and, with the assistance of leading international law firm Hill Dickinson Solicitors and its Netfoil database, was able to warn other insurers and hire companies of their concerns.
APU Ltd and its team of ex-Police and fraud intelligence officers launched a privately funded investigation including two staged ‘sting’ operations in which Shah was expecting delivery of a hire car but was greeted instead by APU investigators.
On one occasion, APU Ltd operatives even followed Shah back into a hospital at which he claimed to be working and followed him for 45 minutes as he walked around the facility’s corridors.
APU’s Head of Investigative Services, Neil Thomas, said: “Shah had obviously figured out what he thought was a fool-proof way to steal cars. He’d use a false identity and payment cards to take out motor insurance policies on cars he never owned, and then report fictitious crashes.
“The fact that he has now pleaded guilty to conspiracy and other charges shows he is part of an organised team and not just a minor player who takes delivery of the cars.
“It was a cowardly and pre-meditated scam that affected the individuals whose identities he stole, as well as defrauding the claims companies of money, so I’m pleased that APU has played a key part in bringing him to justice.”
Peter Oakes, head of fraud at Hill Dickinson LLP, said: “This is another demonstrable success as a result of collaboration between APU and Hill Dickinson, driven by Netfoil intelligence and a robust, joined up approach to fraud prevention.”
1. Between 1 Jan 2014 and 1 September 2014, that he conspired with person or persons unknown to falsely obtain motor insurance policies and make false claims for compensation in respect of car accidents that had not taken place and thereafter obtain the use of ‘courtesy’ motor vehicles.
2. Between 1 Jan 2014 and 1 September 2014, that he conspired with person or persons unknown to steal motor cars that had been hired as ‘courtesy’ cars.
He was granted bail by Her Honour H. Lloyd at Preston Crown Court to allow pre-sentence reports to be prepared and will appear at back at Preston at 10am on 16th June for sentencing where he was told a custodial sentence was ‘ most likely’.
In total 9 vehicles were stolen.