’Publicising work and successes is an important part of our strategy’, says Ifed’s detective chief inspector

By Thomas Hill

Tom Hill High Res

Policing uses a framework, initially developed by Counter Terrorism Policing, which focuses on four strands – prevent, pursue, protect and prepare.

The protect strand is a key feature of the Home Office’s fraud strategy and one of the three pillars that makes up the strategy focuses on empowering the public, so that they are more likely to avoid fraud and the harm that comes with it.

We know that someone is more likely to be a victim of fraud than any other crime type and so successful collaboration in raising public awareness is key.

In the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (Ifed), this relates to increasing victim support and communications so the public can better protect themselves against insurance fraud.

Effective partnerships

In February last year, Ifed worked with the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) to raise awareness of ‘clip for cash’ scams, where innocent motorists are targeted by criminals who lead them to believe that they have ‘clipped’ another vehicle.

The victims are then confronted by fraudsters who claim that the driver had damaged their wing mirror and pressure them into handing over money.

There had previously been some publicity around this thanks to communications issued by Gloucestershire Police and North Wales Police. However, there was a need for more public awareness to help prevent drivers from falling victim to the scam, encourage reporting, highlight Ifed and the IFB taking a national lead to tackle the issue and demonstrate that the insurance industry is looking out for its customers.

Working together with our colleagues at the IFB, we published a press release and an animated video created by the IFB to illustrate ‘clip for cash’ methods. It featured in 200 online articles and on national television – and an online advertising campaign received 7.5m impressions.

Cash for crash

In June 2023, we again worked with partners across the insurance counter fraud sector to raise awareness of a new type of cash for crash fraud, where mopeds were deliberately being driven at oncoming traffic.

Ifed and the IFB issued a press release, which resulted in 25 new reports being made to Cheatline – 15 within the first two weeks of publication.

We issued a week-long series of posts across the City of London Police’s social media channels to raise awareness and worked with a design agency to create leaflets and posters that we distributed in North London.

Our officers briefed colleagues at the Metropolitan Police Service in parts of London where the activity was highest and canvassed shops and local businesses. This work was co-ordinated with – and complemented by – an advertising campaign by the IFB, which geotargeted “problem” boroughs in London and received over 8m impressions.

And finally, in November, several partners supported Ifed’s work to target commercial insurance fraud during Operation Jeren, which culminated in a period of activity in the City of London.

Commercial vehicles were stopped by our Roads Policing Unit with intelligence provided from a police operations room, supported by partners from the IFB, Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB), the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), HM Revenues and Customs (HMRC) and insurers Axa, Allianz and Aviva.

The operation was a great success, with 10 arrests made, which were subsequently used as deterrent messaging by publicising our work in the commercial insurance fraud space.