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Fraudster jailed for fake crashes

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A fraudster who staged at least 93 "accidents" and lived a glamorous lifestyle off the proceeds has been jailed for four-and-a-half-years after costing the insurance industry £1.6 million.

Twenty-four-year-old Mohammed Patel charged £500 for each stunt, which allowed fraudsters to bank an average of £17,000 from insurers.

Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court heard Mr Patel, of Bolton, Greater Manchester, earned himself around £46,000 in total.

He admitted one count of conspiracy to defraud, six counts of dangerous driving and four counts of driving while disqualified.

Mr Patel was also banned from driving for three-and-a-half years.

"Crash for cash" scammers earn an average of £16,000 per "accident", according to the body set up to combat this type of fraud.

Richard Davies, deputy chairman of The Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB), said: "Crash for cash is an exceedingly common problem. Back in 2006 it was worth around £200 million a year. You can make serious money from this. You can make an average of £16,000 per accident on this scam."

Mr Davies said that typically, the staged accident involved a low speed collision and the "victim" who has been shunted claims for personal injury, vehicle damage and replacement vehicle hire.

He added insurance fraud costs consumers around £44 on their premiums every year.

© Press Association 2009