A motor fraudster behind a “sophisticated criminal enterprise” has been sentenced to two years in prison at Preston Crown Court today.
Naveed Shah (37) of Blackburn Road, Great Harwood, Lancashire, stole multiple hire cars – valued in excess of £200,000 – over a nine-month period by creating a complex scam designed to outwit the police, but which was foiled by anti-motor fraud specialist APU.
The conman stole the identities of innocent people, took out fake motor insurance policies and even posed as a care assistant who had been a genuine victim of a number of car crashes.
Shah was caught after a sting operation by APU, when he tried to hire a car from accident management firm Accident Exchange.
Justice HH Turner sentenced Shah to two years after he pleaded guilty, and was convicted of, conspiracy to make false insurance claims and steal courtesy cars on April 22.
Justice Turner said in court: “This was a sophisticated criminal enterprise which duped insurers and stole cars with a view to moving them on for profit.
“Fraud is a prevalent crime which has a large impact on the motoring public. Shah played a significant role in this.”
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.
APU’s head of investigative services Neil Thomas said: “These fraudsters drive up the cost of insurance for everyone. This is a compelling message to criminals looking to exploit private companies and motorists alike.
“Shah had figured out what he thought was a fool-proof way to steal cars, but with some determination on our part, he’s now got to face the consequences of his actions.”
In total, over £200,000 worth of cars disappeared without trace, leaving the companies no way of uncovering the true identity of the fraudster.
After attempting to obtain a hire car from Accident Exchange, anti-motor fraud specialist, APU flagged the claim as suspicious. 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.
APU then provided a portfolio of evidence to help Lancashire Police uncover the extent of Shah’s offending.
On one occasion, APU 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 grounds.