It follows a joint investigation with IFED, the IFB and the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit

An organised crime group of 16 people from Luton who ran a crash for cash scam operation worth almost £1.2m have been sentenced.

Following a three day hearing at St Albans Crown Court which concluded today, eight people were sentenced to a total of 32 years and 11 months, while a number of others were handed suspended sentences.

The group was arrested by officers from the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU), following an investigation with the help of the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) and the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB).

They were looking into a number of road traffic collisions between 2013 and 2015, which were believed to be staged as part of an elaborate insurance scam.

Raja Mehmood, 35, of Luton, who was the ring leader of the organised crime group (OCG) and co-ordinated the scam, was sentenced to six years in prison.

He worked alongside fellow OCG members, Steven Seaton, 47, Mita Mistri, 37, Naveed Khan, 22, Nadeem Khan, 24,and Ataf Hussain, 44, all from Luton.

Seaton was sentenced to four years and nine months, Mistry to three years, Naveed Khan, to three years and two months, Nadeem Khan to four and a half years, and Ata Hussein to four years.

Two methods of the scam

The group used two different tactics to scam insurance companies out of money. In some cases they would brake suddenly, so that the car behind would crash into them, with the driver of the other car then being deemed at fault. The conventional way.

In other incidents, offenders would crash into each other, away from any witnesses so that they could then put in a claim.

The investigation uncovered around 80 collisions in total that could be directly linked to the group.

The other 10 people involved in the fraud, included family members and partners of the OCG members, either helping to stage the accidents or making false insurance claims and collecting the illegal pay outs.

“A complex and high-end fraud”

ERSOU Detective Sergeant Kelly Gray, who led the investigation, said: “This was an incredibly lengthy investigation into this organised crime group who were operating a complex and high end fraud, and it’s thanks to the hard work and commitment of our officers, alongside our partner agencies, that we’ve reached this successful conclusion.

“Not only were these individuals scamming insurance companies out of thousands of pounds but, more importantly, they were putting the lives of innocent motorists at risk on a regular basis by causing these collisions.

“We’re really pleased these offenders have now been brought to justice, and we hope that the sentences handed out send a stark lesson to others. We’re committed to clamping down on fraudsters such as these and proving that crime never does pay.”

Detective constable Daryl Fryatt of IFED said: “This crime gang carried out a series of deliberate crashes, showing they clearly had no regard for the safety of those around them. As well as putting innocent members of the public at risk directly, crash for cash fraud contributes to the rise in premiums for everyone who buys insurance.

“However, this is a prime example of the continued collaboration between law enforcement and the insurance industry in catching out insurance fraudsters. The Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department worked effectively with ERSOU and the IFB to dismantle this sophisticated OCG and ensure they were brought to justice.”

Stephen Dalton, Head of Intelligence at the IFB, commented: “We would like to thank ERSOU for bringing vital information to the IFB. By working closely together we’ve been able disrupt this notorious criminal gang in the Luton area. 

“Mehmood was the ringleader at the centre of the gang who plagued Luton’s roads before fleeing the country, instead of owning up to his crimes, leaving other gang members to take the fall.

“His manipulative nature also meant he didn’t think twice before taking advantage of his business connections in order to expand his scam and maximise his profits. Today’s result is a win not just for the police and the insurance industry, but also for the local community.”