Detective inspector Marek Coghill of the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department outlines how the unit is seeking to disrupt moped linked staged collisions

By Marek Coghill

Marek Coghill

Marek Coghill

The City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (Ifed) is taking steps to combat incidents where riders of mopeds are involved in staged collisions and subsequent fraudulent insurance claims.

Reports from multiple insurers show that moped enabled crash for cash fraud is a growing issue. Over 2,250 people in London were a victim of this type of scam in the two years to June 2023, according to the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB).

While the impact on insurance premiums is a consideration when tackling these cases, as is the general inconvenience and psychological impact on victims, a primary concern for us is that these incidents also pose potentially lethal dangers to the public and to the riders involved.

Police officers have faced challenges around identifying and prosecuting riders involved in this activity. The documented increase in this crime has underlined the need to employ innovative methodology and explore options for effective intelligence gathering and sharing.

Known incidents are prevalent within the London area. The moped riders, where identified, often leave the UK jurisdiction before police can locate and apprehend them.

In the last year, police have made efforts to arrest riders and obtain warrants on private addresses. However, this approach has not yielded a sufficient impact.

This is now well understood to be due to the exploitation of inherent delays in the nature of the staged crash incidents and the fraudulent claims that ensue.

Crash for cash-related fraudulent insurance claims often utilise commercial garages to purportedly store damaged mopeds and rent replacements to riders. These activities are done at exorbitant rates, billing many thousands of pounds to the insurers.

Operation Fulvous

Operation Fulvous, incepted in September 2022, is a multiagency partnership that aims to disrupt crash for cash moped fraud by creating a hostile environment for crime by targeting the enablers involved.

By adopting this approach, we will significantly impact the profitability of the underlying incidents.

As part of Operation Fulvous, Ifed partners with local government service Trading Standards. This helps Ifed to adapt its methods of intelligence gathering and countering fraud enabling activities.

Trading Standards’ involvement has been effective in disrupting other types of fraud too, due to its routine powers of entry and inspection provided by the criminal legislation that Trading Standards enforces.

Where there is incomplete intelligence or insufficient evidence of criminality, Trading Standards’ officers (TSOs) can conduct a routine inspection at the premises identified, while accompanying police officers engage with the business owners and the local community.

Any breaches of Trading Standards legislation can be picked up during these routine inspections. This can often be dealt with by offering business owners advice about compliance with the law, but resultant action can also include seizing non-compliant products.

There is the opportunity during a routine inspection for police officers to discuss the relevant business model and to enquire about issues such as the repair, storage, rental agreements or ownership of motor vehicles, present or recorded, and how business is generated.

Case study

On 11 June 2024, police officers from Ifed accompanied TSOs during their inspections of three premises in Croydon, Harlesden and North Finchley, to ensure that the businesses were complying with the law and to address any non-compliance.

Ifed officers also visited two premises in Clapham and Newham, conducting community engagement and speaking to employees about crash for cash fraud.

Ifed pic

Stolen mopeds recovered by Ifed in June 2024

Credit: Ifed

During this activity, one person was arrested on suspicion of immigration offences and three others were reported to the Home Office’s immigration department for working in breach of their permitted status.

This information is being shared with HM Revenue and Customs. Through such intelligence sharing, fines or other sanctions can be levied against the business owners.

Three stolen mopeds were additionally recovered from one garage, with one of the bikes already restored to its rightful owner.

Hundreds of moped license plates were identified and logged for research purposes, with a number linked by the IFB and police to known crash for cash reports.

Following this on 18 June 2024, a police search warrant was executed under Operation Fulvous at a residential address in Bracknell.

Evidence relating to suspected crash for cash claims investigations was recovered. A moped, linked to a separate recent crash claim, was found at the address. Investigations are continuing regarding businesses linked to the provision of mopeds involved in these collisions and the management of associated claims.

Such co-ordinated days of action send a clear message to these fraudsters and to commercial parties complicit in or essential to the resultant claims – we are working to ensure that these fraudsters have no space to operate.

Ifed and its partners are now effectively mapping links between garages that allegedly store and repair mopeds, as well as other associated enabling services, that are believed to be involved in profiting from staged crash for cash incidents.