Crash for cash Connah’s Quay man jailed for 6 and a half years.
The man at the centre of the Chester cash for crash scam has today, Friday 24 April, been jailed for a total of 6 and a half years.
John Smith, 45, was convicted of fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud on Wednesday 1 April following a 41 day trial at Manchester Crown Court.
He received a custodial sentence of 3 months for fraud, and seven six and a half year sentenced for conspiracy to commit fraud, all of which will be served concurrently.
Smith, from Connah’s Quay, was the managing director of Chester based company Swift Accident Solutions, an accident management company which specialised in the sale of personal injury claims.
In addition to Smith a further 13 defendants, who played a major role in organising the collisions, were sentenced to a total of 40 years 10 months in prison after they were all found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud.
During the trial the jury heard that Smith was the ringleader of an elaborate ‘cash for crash’ scam, in which he organised a number of minor collisions in and around the Chester area to create new claimants for his business.
The investigation by officers from Chester CID centred on a total of seven collisions which took place between October 2010 and January 2012 and all involved First Group buses.
All of the collisions followed similar scenarios, in which a car would collide with the side of a bus, causing both minimal impact and minimal damage. In each case the driver of the car would admit full liability, allowing all of the passengers from the bus to submit personal injury claims.
As a result of the seven collisions a total of 218 personal injury claims were submitted, with 177 of the claimants using Smith’s Swift Accident Solutions.
The court heard how Smith earned payments of between £840 and £960 for each claimant he introduced to a solicitor.
Based on an average of £900 for each of the 177 claimants, the prosecution estimated that the seven collisions would have created a gross income of £159,000 for Smith. They believed the claims would account for over 75% of the total gross income received by Swift Accident Solutions during the period the collisions occurred.
All of the claims submitted by Swift Accident Solutions were for whiplash and soft tissue injuries, meaning that they could not be evidentially verified and instead relied on the truthfulness of the individual claimants.
The case came to light after the First Group became suspicious about the number of collisions involved their busses that had occurred in the Chester area.
Detective Inspector Simon Lonsdale from Chester CID said:
“I am extremely pleased with the sentences that have been handed out today, this was an extremely complex investigation, and involving a large number of defendants and spanning a number of years.
“It has been a challenging process for all officers involved and has required considerable professional skills in relation to the investigation and the subsequent prosecution.
“The crime that they committed was not a victimless crime, had all of the false claims created by Smith and his associates been successful we believe that the total cost would have been over £1 million, which would have been paid for by law abiding citizens through their car insurance policies.
Detective Constable Stephen Owens added:
The Police have a duty to protect life, and although these collisions were all minor, they could have been much more serious.
“Yet despite the fact all of the collisions were minor, with minimal damage to both vehicles, they all resulted in multiple personal injury claims, with the vast majority of these claims submitted via Smith’s company.
“Through our investigations and the evidence we have gathered, we have been able to identify a ‘passenger Network’ which shows that a large proportion of the claimants can be linked to each other. This network proves that over 90% of the claimants involved in the collisions are linked to each other.
We encourage anyone who feels that they may have been a victim of fraud to contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. Alternatively information can also be reported anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
One final defendant in the case, Rachel Cooper, is due to be sentenced on 28 April 2015.
“Foremost, any victim of a crime such as this will be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve, and any allegations will be thoroughly investigated, with the needs of the victim as our main priority.” Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com