AXA at forefront of prosecution of serial accident stager

The ringleader of a major insurance fraud gang that could have cost insurers over £750,000 is to appear in court early next year.

The case will be seen as evidence of the increasing determination by insurers to bring fraudsters to justice, with much of the investigation work handled in-house by AXA.

A 50-page dossier on the case prepared by the insurer has been praised by the City of London police for its detail.

The scam involved a number of crimes involving vehicles and staged accidents. In many cases, the perpetrator allegedly insured vehicles that he did not own on a third party basis, which were often found in scrap yards. It is alleged he would then stage accidents and make claims.

It is believed claims to the value of £100,000 for at least 15 fake accidents were made in a period of around 18 months. However, if these included further fraudulent claims for passengers claiming for whiplash and other injuries, then the total could be in excess of £750,000.

The case is a complex one and since the perpetrator has yet to appear in court - although he has been arrested - names cannot be released. It will shortly be presented to the Crown Prosecution Service under the charge 'conspiracy to defraud'. Providing the go-ahead is received, the case should be heard next year.

Detective Sergeant Mark Lilley of the City of London police's economic crime department said he was optimistic about the case's prospects, adding that 15 other people linked to the crime had also been questioned.

In total around 30 - many who have family or community connections to the main perpetrator - could be charged.

Lilley said that although AXA was not the only insurer targeted, it had taken the lead in bringing the case to court: "Other insurers are aware of this individual, but it goes to show that more checks need to be made, along with

better data sharing. For example, it was shown that this man was using the same credit card to buy cover."

Lilley said the perpetrator was based in suburban London and runs an "apparently legitimate" accident management company.