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Nationwide police raids on frauds involving credit hire cars

A total of 17 people have been arrested in raids across England by detectives investigating criminal gangs making false insurance claims for courtesy cars provided to motorists while their own vehicle is being fixed.

Warrants were executed at business and residential addresses in Essex, Hertfordshire, Lancashire, London, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Surrey and West Yorkshire, yesterday in a police day of action that marks the culmination of months of investigation by the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED).

One hundred officers took part in the operation that saw the City of London Police unit supported by colleagues from the force’s Economic Crime Directorate and officers from local forces.

The City of London Police said criminal gangs typically set up phoney, or use corrupt, claims management and hire companies to commit this type of insurance fraud, known by industry as ‘credit hire fraud’.

Through these businesses the fraudsters will invoice insurers for a courtesy car they have not actually provided, commonly called ‘phantom hire’.

In other instances they will ‘lease’ the same courtesy car to different motorists at the same time and put in a separate claim for each fictional hire, often known as ‘cross hire’.

Sometimes they may also bill an insurer for providing a top spec courtesy car when only a basic model was given. Hire periods are also often exaggerated.

DCI Dave Wood, Head of IFED, said: “This operation reveals credit hire fraud as a nationwide problem which IFED is tackling through a co-ordinated law enforcement response.

“While insurers are the criminals’ intended victims, innocent motorists ultimately pay the price in terms of the impact of insurance fraud on the cost of premiums.

“Insurer diligence, coupled with enforcement action being taken by IFED and supported by local police forces, is paramount to confront this threat now and in the future.”

The 17 people were arrested on suspicion of a variety of offences including fraud by false representation, conspiracy to defraud, money laundering and forgery.

Louise Ellman MP, chair of the Commons Transport Select Committee, who was present when warrants were executed in London, said: “I applaud the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department which does vital work in rooting out insurance fraud. In the short time since it was set up, it has delivered real achievements that will benefit all law abiding motorists.”??????????

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